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Friday, January 28, 2022

Iran’s Raisi says Tehran ready to hold nuclear talks ‘without western pressure’


Previous reports said Iran is set to resume Vienna nuclear talks in early September.

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi told his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron that negotiations with western powers must lead to the removal of sanctions on Tehran, saying he was not interested in negotiation “for the sake of negotiations”.

This came during a phone call between the two leaders on Sunday, in which Raisi and Macron reviewed bilateral relations and discussed issues of common concern, namely the latest crisis in Afghanistan as well as the Vienna nuclear talks.

“We have no objection to useful negotiations, but the programme and result of the negotiations should be the lifting of sanctions against Iran. Negotiation for negotiation is useless,” Raisi told Macron.

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In response, Macron expressed his hope in resuming the Vienna nuclear talks with Iran’s presence.

France is among the members of the P4+1 – China, Russia, the UK and Germany – that have been engaging in nuclear talks in Vienna in hopes of reviving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA] following former US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the accord.

The US withdrawal of the deal was followed by more crippling sanctions on the Islamic Republic as well as heightened tensions between the two countries.

On Saturday, President Raisi said Iran was ready to hold talks with world powers to revive the JCPOA without western “pressure”.

World powers such as France and Germany had previously urged Tehran to return to negotiations following elections in June, with Paris stressing the need to immediately resume talks while expressing concerns over Tehran’s intensified atomic activities.

In August, France, Germany and Britain presented their concerns over a report released by the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA], which said that Iran has produced uranium metal enriched up to 20% for the first time.

The Islamic Republic also enriched uranium at 60%, though it denied claims that it would be used for the production of weapons, maintaining its nuclear programme is peaceful.

“The westerners and the Americans are after talks together with pressure…what kind of talks is that? I have already announced that we will have talks on our government’s agenda but not with … pressure,” Raisi told state television.

Iran has long expressed its readiness to commit to talks and a reduction of its nuclear activities on the condition that the US lifts sanctions on the country and returns to the JCPOA.

“Talks are on the agenda … We are seeking goal-oriented negotiations … so unjust sanctions on the Iranian people are lifted … and their lives can flourish,” added Raisi.

On Friday, Washington’s top envoy for Iran Robert Malley told Bloomberg that Washington “can’t wait forever” for the talks to resume.

The last round of talks in Vienna took place on 20 June, with reports suggesting diplomats would return to the negotiating table following Raisi’s inauguration.

Reports last month said Tehran was ready to resume the nuclear talks in early September under the new administration.

“If there is no agreement, the situation for Iran will be much worse,” an EU official told the AFP in August.

“We will work on the assumption we will get an agreement.”

Heavyweight regional mediator Qatar has previously expressed its willingness to mediate between both the US and Iran, saying it will “spare no effort” to help restore the nuclear accord.

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