London, 08 June - For a second day running, Donald Trump has called for talks between the US and Iran but has stressed that under no circumstances will Iran be allowed to develop nuclear weapons.
After a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron in Caen, France, on Thursday, Trump said: "I understand [Iran] wants to talk, and we want to talk. That's fine. We'll talk. But the one thing that [Iran] can't have is … nuclear weapons. And I think the president of France would agree with that very strongly."
This came just one day after Trump told Britain’s ITV that he would prefer to talk to his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, but refused to take military action off the table.
He said: "Yeah, of course. I would much rather talk… [But] there's always a chance [or military action]. Do I want to? No. I'd rather not. But there's always a chance."
Tensions between the US and Iran have been rising since Trump took power and began to exert pressure on Iran by pulling out of the 2015 nuclear deal, reimposing sanctions on Iran, labelling the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organisation, among other things.
Trump said the nuclear deal didn’t do enough to stop Iran obtaining nuclear weapons or modify its other malign behaviour, so his pressure campaign was designed to get Iran to agree to a new comprehensive deal.
Recently. tensions escalated when the US sent an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Gulf in response to an as-yet-unspecified threat to the US, which was described as “imminent”.
On Tuesday, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei suggested that Trump’s supposed openness to talks was a "cunning political ploy" and Iran would not be deceived.
Tzvi Kahn, a senior Iran analyst at the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said: "Iran knows that the current situation is unsustainable as sanctions are tearing apart the country. So, we're beginning to see cracks in the regime's facade."
Indeed, Iran's currency has been weakened significantly since the sanctions and inflation rates have soared.
Following his address with Macron, Trump said: "[Iran is] doing very poorly as a nation. They are failing as a nation. And I don't want them to fail as a nation."
While Macron said that the US and France agreed that Iran should not obtain nuclear weapons, reduce its ballistic missile activity, contain its involvement in regional conflicts; and pursue peace in the Middle East.
He said: "I think the [message] pronounced by President Trump is that [negotiations] are very important. We need to open a new negotiation in order to build and to get these four objectives."