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Zarif Tries To Downplay U.S. 'Maximum Pressure'

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif made his remarks at the Munich Security Conference on February 15.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that U.S. President Donald Trump was receiving bad advice if he believed America's "maximum pressure" campaign against his country would cause the government in Tehran to collapse.

Zarif, speaking at the Munich Security Conference on February 15, said Trump had been "convinced that we are about to collapse so he doesn't want to talk to a collapsing regime."

Trump has reimposed tough sanctions on Iran since Washington exited a major nuclear deal in 2018 that exchanged curbs on Iran's nuclear program for sanctions relief.

Trump asserted that the terms were not strict enough to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons and said Tehran violated the spirit of the accord by continuing to finance extremist activity in the region. Iran has denied the allegations.

The sanctions have taken a severe toll on the Iranian economy and sent the national currency plunging.

"I believe President Trump, unfortunately, does not have good advisers," Zarif said. "He's been wanting for Iran to collapse since he withdrew from the nuclear deal."

Zarif rejected Trump's suggestion of negotiating a new deal, saying the agreement signed in 2015 between Iran and world powers was the only vehicle for talks on Iran's nuclear program.

"There is no point in talking over something you already talked about. You don't buy a horse twice," he said.

Other signatories to the nuclear agreement -- Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China -- have struggled to save the deal.

Tehran has gradually stepped back from its own commitments under the accord and said earlier this month that it no longer considered itself bound by it.

Zarif said Tehran would be willing to move back to full compliance if Europe provided "meaningful" economic relief from American sanctions.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at the Munich Security Conference earlier on February 15 that while there may be disagreements on what to do with the nuclear deal, "when I talk to my counterparts here in Europe, everybody gets it."

“Everyone understands that these are folks who continue to build out their nuclear program,” Pompeo said. "So, there's a common understanding about the threat; we have tactical differences on how to proceed."

Pompeo: West Only Has 'Tactical Differences' On Iran
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With reporting by AP