Mr. Trump’s aides, led by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, argue that the effort to route around American sanctions will not work. Mr. Trump has threatened to bar companies engaged in buying Iranian oil, or other goods, from doing business in the United States. The threat has led companies to flee Tehran, sending Iran’s currency plummeting.
British and French officials say it is possible Mr. Trump will prevail, with European firms from Airbus to Total, the French oil giant, already canceling billions of dollars of investment in Iran in anticipation of the additional American sanctions.
Two weeks ago, Brian Hook, the State Department envoy for Iran, said the United States was seeking “the new deal that we hope to be able to sign with Iran, and it will not be a personal agreement between two governments like the last one; we seek a treaty.”
Mr. Zarif, who is American-educated and has a deep interest in the workings of United States politics, seemed on Saturday to have no interest in such a deal. He conceded that Mr. Trump may win the opening rounds of what has essentially become a litmus test of whether countries will follow the president’s confrontational approach.
He and the country’s president, Hassan Rouhani, have said Mr. Trump is trying to bait them into violating the accord, setting the stage for a resumption of the long-running crisis that the 2015 deal was supposed to de-escalate.
“You are just another country,” he said at one point. “Just act as a normal country.” Mr. Pompeo has said essentially the same about Iran.
Mr. Zarif was dismissive of Mr. Trump’s escalating verbal attacks on Iran’s missile sales and its support of Hezbollah, Hamas and the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad. He laughed when asked whether the United States could bring down the current Iranian government with mounting financial pressure — a regime change strategy that Rudolph W. Giuliani, a lawyer for Mr. Trump, recently said was the real goal. (The State Department denied Mr. Giuliani’s characterization.)