By Jon Dougherty
As the U.S. Navy held drills in the Arabia Sea on Monday, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani dismissed POTUS Donald Trump’s invitation to pick up the phone and talk as a means of ratcheting down tensions which have spiked in recent weeks.
As Trump extended an olive branch with his request for Rouhani to “call me,” the Iranian president responded, “No talks, only resistance.”
Regarding the exercises, Military Times reported:
The Navy said Sunday the exercises and training were conducted with the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group in coordination with the U.S. Marine Corps, highlighting American “lethality and agility to respond to threat,” as well as to deter conflict and preserve U.S. strategic interests.
Also taking part in exercises were the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group and the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, both deployed to the U.S. Fifth Fleet area of operations in the Persian Gulf.
The Navy says the exercises, conducted Friday and Saturday, included air-to-air training and steaming in formation and maneuvering.
Meanwhile, Rouhani, who oversaw negotiations with the Obama regime regarding Iran’s nuclear weapons program, did say he would welcome U.S. diplomatic overtures but would not be coerced into new negotiations while his country was under economic sanctions or threat of military action.
“I favor talks and diplomacy but under current conditions, I do not accept it, as today’s situation is not suitable for talks and our choice is resistance only,” Rouhani said, according to Iran’s IRNA news agency.
“If we walked away from the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – the formal name of the nuclear deal] with the US provocative acts, then, in addition to the U.S., the UN and world would also impose sanctions on us,” he added.
The Trump administration has said the additional military assets deployed to the Persian Gulf region was in response to specific threat intelligence regarding potential Iranian military actions against American assets.
On Monday, the president said he would take action against Iranian threats to U.S. interests with “great force,” but followed that by saying it’s up to Iran to initiate dialogue: “If they call, we will certainly negotiate, but this is going to be up to them,” he told reporters.
At the same time, Iran’s official nuclear agency announced Monday it has “quadrupled its production of low-enriched uranium.”
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