The administration of the Iranian President, Hassan Rohani, rejected the White House proposal for a joint summit, put forward on 30 July 2018. Teheran’s immediate response was that it would only accept this proposal after the United States had returned to the agreement known as the 5+1 or JCPOA.
Just as in the case of North Korea, the White House offer took place following a harsh exchange of messages between President Donald Trump and his Iranian partner. Following the signing of the 5 + 1 agreement (JCPOA), President Rohani’s administration dismantled the system that the government of Rohani’s predecessor, Mahmud Ahmadineyad, had established to buffer the effect of the sanctions against Iran.
After freeing up 400 million dollars that had been frozen in the United States, President Rohani was relying on the application of the JCPOA to re-establish financial and trade exchanges between his country and the West. But when the United States walked away from the agreement and announced new sanctions against Iran, this triggered a wave of panic in Iran and the collapse of the Iranian economy.
The unilateral US sanctions against Iran on trade in metals, currency, debt and products from the Iranian automobile industry should enter into force very soon - 7 August 2018 to be precise. The sanctions intended to hurt the banking and oil sectors will enter into force on 5 November 2018.
The downward spiralling of the Iranian economy is gaining momentum as the date on which the sanctions will be applied draws closer. The Iranian currency had witnessed a serious devaluation, passing from 42 000 rials to one dollar (at the end of 2017) to 110 000 rials to one dollar at the end of July 2018.
For seven months now, Iran has been the theatre for a wave of demonstrations against corruption and mismanagement by the Rohani administration. On the other hand, the former president Ahmadineyad is under house arrest and his vice president was subject to a secret trial which resulted in a sentence of 15 years jail time.
The President of Iran’s Parliament, Alí Larijani, referring to the US proposal for the summit meeting, urged President Rohani’s government not to close the door to negotiations.
For his part, the Iranian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mohammad Javad Zarif, travelled discretely to Oman. It was here that in 2011 the election of today’s President Rohani and the subsequent signature of the JCPOA had begun. Then the Foreign Minister of Oman, Yusuf ben Alawi, travelled to Washington for talks with the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.