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Sunday, December 5, 2021

Iran demands assurance US will not abandon nuclear deal again


World leaders have been scrambling to push for the revival of the nuclear deal.

Iran has demanded guarantees from the United States that it will not pull out of the 2015 nuclear accord again if negotiations designed to revive the deal end with positive results, an official said on Monday.

“The US should show that it has the capability and will to provide guarantees that it will not abandon the deal again if the talks to revive the deal succeed,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told a virtual news conference, referring to the 2018 pull out.

The comments were made just weeks ahead of the planned resumption of talks in Vienna on 29 November following months of delays and questioning of intentions.

Indirect nuclear negotiations between the US and Iran kicked off in April this year in Vienna in efforts to restore the nuclear deal. The inconclusive talks paused in June following the sixth round, and ahead of the Iranian presidential elections, which saw the victory of President Ebrahim Raisi.

In 2018, former US president Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal with Iran and reimposed harsh sanctions on Tehran, including a unilateral block on its oil exports. 

This prompted Tehran to increase its nuclear enrichment, which immediately raised concerns among world powers. However, Iran defended its decision by maintaining its nuclear programme is peaceful.

The talks were seen as part of US President Joe Biden’s efforts to reverse foreign policies of former President Donald Trump, who withdrew Washington from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA] to apply “maximum pressure” on Iran.

Read also: Iran says intentions to return to talks ‘should not be questioned’

In comments on Monday, Khabtizadeh said Washington must “definitively lift the unjust and illegal sanctions they have imposed following their withdrawal from the nuclear accord.”

If Washington is not willing to lift its sanctions, Tehran will not reverse its “compensatory measures”, he warned.

Furthermore, the Islamic Republic will not accept a partial return to the deal, the spokesman added. “Either we agree on everything or we agree on nothing.”

On the opposing end the United States and its European allies – France, Britain and Germany – consider Iran’s stance unrealistic and have called for resuming June’s talks where they left off without new demands.

One Western diplomat said if Tehran continues to insist on a guarantee and full lifting of sanctions then this means it is not serious about the talks, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

However, Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said on Saturday Tehran’s intentions to return to talks should not be questioned. 

“The Iranian foreign minister noted that under no circumstances should the seriousness of Iran’s intentions at the talks on the issue of necessity for the sides to return to [nuclear deal] commitments be questioned,” said TASS, citing the press service of the Iranian ministry.

Khatibzadeh said Ali Bagheri Kani, who is Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, will visit London, Paris, Berlin and “perhaps Madrid” this week as Iran’s deputy foreign minister for political affairs. 

According to Reuters, “a French diplomatic source said Bagheri Kani would meet France’s lead negotiator in Paris on Tuesday. A British Foreign Office spokesperson said Bagheri Kani would be in London on Thursday.” 

“We will urge Iran to take the opportunity to swiftly conclude the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) deal on the table,” the spokesperson said, adding that London will demand for an immediate release of detained British nationals.

In Qatar, officials have been expressing the Gulf state’s support for the resumption of negotiations to restore the JCPOA while offering to mediate between the US and Iran.

On Thursday, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani reiterated his country’s position in calling for the resumption of dialogue between all parties involved in the nuclear deal “at the earliest opportunity”.

Sheikh Mohammed also said, during a presser with his Slovene counterpart Anze Logar, that Doha welcomes positive steps regarding the revival of the JCPOA while “stressing the need for the region to be free of nuclear activities”.

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