- The Washington Times - Friday, October 6, 2017

Iran is signaling that it is open to diplomatic talks on its ballistic missile arsenal after increasing threats by President Trump to pull out of the nuclear deal that the Obama administration and other world powers reached with the Islamic republic in 2015.

Publicly, Tehran has vowed to ramp up its ballistic missile tests in the face of U.S. and European criticism. But according to report Friday by Reuters, Iranian officials have privately approached the U.S. and other powers about possible talks on some “dimensions” of the missile program.

Reuters cited anonymous sources as suggesting Mr. Trump’s threats to ditch the nuclear deal may have inspired Tehran to reconsider aspects of its missile activity, which Washington and its allies say violates existing U.N. Security Council resolutions.

During a meeting on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly last month, Iranian diplomats told the U.S. and others that “it could discuss the missile program to remove concerns,” an Iranian source with knowledge of the meeting told Reuters.

The news agency said U.S. and other Western officials did not confirm whether the matter was discussed between Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson when the two met on the U.N. sidelines — but two U.S. officials said Iran had recently been “keeping it alive” by feeding certain media reports and via third parties such as Oman.

Mr. Zarif met behind closed doors at the U.N. with Mr. Tillerson and top diplomats from the five other nations that agreed to the 2015 nuclear accord that dramatically eased international sanctions on Iran in exchange for limits its nuclear program, which was long suspected of nuclear weapons activity.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Mr. Trump “isn’t looking at [only] one piece” of Iran’s actions.

Dave Boyer contributed to this story.

“He’s looking at all of the bad behavior of Iran, not just the nuclear deal as bad behavior, but the ballistic missile testing, destabilizing of the region, Number One state sponsor of terrorism, cyber attacks, illicit nuclear program,” she said.

Mrs. Sanders said the president “wants to look for a broad strategy that addresses all of those problems, not just one-offing those.”

“That’s what his team is focused on, and that’s he’ll be rolling out to address as a whole in the coming days,” she said.

The other five powers are France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia. Reuters said Iran’s reported approach to the powers relating to its ongoing ballistic missile activity came after Mr. Trump had called the 2015 nuclear accord “an embarrassment” and “the worst deal ever negotiated.”

Mr. Trump has threatened to “decertify” the deal when it next comes up for required review by his administration in mid-October.

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