Iran is a long way from deceptive North Korea and not merely in terms of distance. It has hit back at the United States of America, with President Hassan Rouhani rejecting President Trump’s offer of “talks without preconditions” as worthless and “a dream”, saying his words contradicted his action of reimposing sanctions on Tehran.

Less than a week after the US President had warned Iran that it would “have to pay a price few countries have ever paid before” ~ was he alluding to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq? ~ Tehran has exposed the double-think that runs wild in the portals of the White House.

In an exceptionally robust reaction, President Rouhani has asserted that Mr Trump’s repudiation of an international nuclear deal reached in 2015 was “illegal” and Iran would not easily yield to Washington’s renewed campaign to strangle Iran’s vital oil exports.

In plain terms, talks at the high table can scarcely go hand in hand with the turning of the economic screws. One contradicts the other. The deepening crisis in America’s equation with Iran ~ a major challenge for Trump ahead of the crucial midterm elections ~ has exacerbated has ever since the US pulled out of the multilateral deal concluded before he assumed office, denouncing it as one-sided in Iran’s favour.

Arguably, Mr Trump’s unilateral move, which has been stoutly opposed by Europe, was influenced in part by the fact that the deal was concluded by his predecessor, Barack Obama.

The move has not only alienated Iran further still, but the signatories to the agreement as well. Washington has only itself to blame for ending talks with Tehran when it withdrew from the nuclear deal.

President Trump’s offer to negotiate with Tehran is at odds with his decidedly vindictive actions ~ Washington has imposed sanctions on Iran and exerted pressure on other countries to avoid business with the Islamic Republic.

Sanctions and pressures fly in the face of dialogue, with or without “preconditions”. President Rouhani has thus exposed the inherent contradiction in President Trump’s dealings with Iran.

Particularly virulent has been the reaction of the omnipotent Revolutionary Guards. Its head, Major-General Mohammad Ali Jafari, has dismissed Trump’s tentative offer, saying the Islamic Republic was not North Korea.

“Mr Trump! Iran is not North Korea to accept your offer for a meeting. Even US Presidents after you will not see that day.” In a sense, President Trump has set the cat among the pigeons.

His talks offer has not only been binned by the dispensation in Tehran, but by the powerful theocratic segment as well. Trump’s move to force Iran into fresh negotiations has for now reunited Iranian hardliners, who had opposed the 2015 nuclear deal, and pragmatists like Rouhani who had championed the same to stave off an economic crisis and end the stand-off with Western powers. America has suffered a diplomatic rebuff.