The United States will not lift sanctions on Iran in order to negotiate, U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted late on Saturday, seemingly in response to a Der Spiegel interview with Iran's foreign minister.
"Iranian Foreign Minister says Iran wants to negotiate with The United States, but wants sanctions removed. @FoxNews @OANN No Thanks!" Trump tweeted in English on Saturday and later in Farsi.
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded on Sunday by tweeting an excerpt from the interview with Der Spiegel published on Friday, where he said Iran is still open to negotiations with America if sanctions are lifted.
"@realdonaldtrump is better advised to base his foreign policy comments & decisions on facts, rather than @FoxNews headlines or his Farsi translators," Zarif said in the tweet with the interview excerpt.
Tensions between Iran and the United States have reached the highest levels in decades after the U.S. killed top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike in Baghdad on Jan. 3, prompting Iran to fire missiles days later at bases in Iraq where U.S. troops are stationed.
Tensions between the two have been increasing steadily since Trump pulled the United States out of Iran's nuclear pact with world powers in 2018 and reimposed sanctions that have driven down Iran's oil exports and hammered its economy.
Meanwhile on Saturday, Ali Asghar Zarean, an aide to Iran's nuclear chief, said Iran's enriched uranium stockpile has exceeded 1,200 kilograms (2,646 pounds), which is far beyond the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers allowed.
"Iran is increasing its stockpile of the enriched uranium with full speed," he said. The claim has not been verified by the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog.
Following the U.S. drone strike on Jan. 3 that killed Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, Iran announced it would no longer abide by any of the deal's limitations to its enrichment activities. It then retaliated Jan. 8, launching ballistic missiles at two bases in Iraq housing American troops, causing injuries but no fatalities among soldiers there.
In November, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran's stockpile of low-enriched uranium had grown to 372.3 kilograms (821 pounds) as of Nov. 3. The nuclear deal limited the stockpile to 202.8 kilograms (447 pounds).
Iran has routinely vowed to begin enriching its stockpile of uranium to higher levels closer to weapons grade if world powers fail to negotiate new terms for the nuclear accord following the U.S. decision to withdraw from the agreement and restore crippling sanctions. European countries opposed the U.S. withdrawal and have repeatedly urged Iran to abide by the deal.
Under the agreement, Iran agreed to limit its enrichment of uranium under the watch of U.N. inspectors in exchange for the lifting of sanctions.
Trump has maintained that the 2015 nuclear deal needs to be renegotiated because it didn't address Iran's ballistic missile program or its involvement in regional conflicts. The other signatories to the nuclear deal - Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia - have been struggling to keep it alive.