Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was "not impressed" with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif's comments on an interview with CBS News Sunday, saying there is a "huge gap" between Zarif's supposedly moderate words and Iran's real actions.
Zarif is on a visit to NY, where Iran maintains diplomatic representation to the United Nations, in advance of the May 12 deadline President Trump has set for his decision on whether to reimpose economic sanctions that were lifted as part of the 2015 nuclear agreement.
Zarif, in town to attend meetings at the United Nations, said if Washington leaves the deal, Iran has many options to consider, including complaining through a dispute mechanism set up in the agreement, simply leaving the deal and restarting its nuclear activities, or more "drastic measures", which he declined to specify.
The White House has called for a "follow-on" accord that would penalize Iran for ballistic missile tests, expand nuclear inspectors' access, and lengthen limits on Iranian nuclear activity.
Under the Iran nuclear deal, Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear program in return for relief from economic sanctions.
"We will have to build the new Syria after [the Islamic State is defeated], and that's why I think the USA hold is very important", Macron said.
Zarif on the CBS program also discussed possible negotiations with the United States about possible release of some Americans being detained there.
Trump, for his part, has also criticized the government in Iran and said earlier this year that the Iranian people would receive "great support" from America "at the appropriate time".
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"We have put a number of options for ourselves, and those options are ready", Zarif said.
He said it was "highly unlikely" that Iran would stay inside the JCPOA if the USA effectively pulled out.
"The United States is changing policy". He noted that CIA Director Mike Pompeo recently said in testimony at his confirmation hearing to become secretary of state that Iran was not "racing towards a bomb".
As the final countdown begins to the next sanctions waiver deadline, and amid Trump's grand posturing, European states are scrambling to see what can be done to salvage matters should the U.S. president stand by his word and pull the rug out from under the deal. "There's no way that Iran would do a one-sided implementation of it".
'US under the Trump administration has done everything it could to prevent Iran from benefiting from this agreement, ' Zarif charged.
At least five Americans are held being in Tehran and have been sentenced to prison in Iran on espionage-related charges.
The Iranian regime has been heavily criticised in recent months for its role in propping up the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, despite his complicity in the death of thousands of civilians and his willingness to use chemical weapons against his own people.