Tehran Says Trump Needs to Initiate Call If He Wants a Deal

July 16, 2018, 4:11 PM UTC

If the U.S. wants a to make a deal with Iran, President Donald Trump will have to pick up the phone, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Bahram Qassemi said Monday, according to the AP.

The statement comes a week after Trump said Iran is “feeling a lot of pain right now” due to increasing U.S. sanctions, the Jerusalem Post reports. “At a certain point they’re going to call me and say ‘let’s make a deal,’ and we’ll make a deal,” he said.

Qassemi negated Trump’s statement on Monday, saying “I don’t know whether he was making a joke or was speaking seriously, but there is a greater chance that he will call Tehran and want to begin negotiations.”

Tensions with Iran have heightened since Trump announced the U.S. was pulling out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (commonly known as the Iran Deal) in May. While Trump felt the deal was too narrow and weak, the other world powers signed onto the agreement—including Germany, Britain, France, Russia, China, and the European Union—have been negotiating with Iran on how to keep the deal. The agreement offers incentives for Iran to drop pursuit of a nuclear weapons program.

The U.S. has reimposed sanctions against Iran since leaving the deal, and has threatened to punish foreign companies for continuing to do business with Iran, AP reports.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Twitter Monday that Iran filed a complaint with the International Court of Justice “to hold US accountable for its unlawful re-imposition of unilateral sanctions.”

“Iran is committed to the rule of law in the face of US contempt for diplomacy & legal obligations,” he continued.

According to the AP, Iranian officials have repeatedly accused the U.S. of violating the Iran Deal before pulling out in May, and imposing illegal sanctions thereafter.