Iran rejects Reuters report on deal in Vienna talks as effort to boost West
Iran has rejected a report by Reuters news agency about a deal having been drafted in the Vienna talks on the revival of the 2015 Iran deal, saying that it is only meant to boost the position of the Western parties to the talks and has nothing to do with what is happening on the ground in the Austrian capital.
On Thursday, Reuters claimed that it has gained access to a 20-page draft agreement allegedly clinched by the participants in the Vienna talks, which stipulates a sequence of steps to be implemented once it has been approved by the remaining parties to the deal.
It added that the agreement starts with a phase, including Iran suspending enrichment above 5% purity and other measures such as unfreezing of about $7 billion in Iranian funds stuck in South Korean banks under US sanctions. Reuters claimed that the draft also includes the release of a number of Iranian nationals, who also hold the US citizenship and have been sentenced to jail terms on grounds of taking measures against the country’s national security.
The Reuters report also alleged that the draft has also noted that the removal of some particularly sensitive sanctions could also require Iranian and US officials to meet directly, which has so far been categorically rejected by Iranian officials.
Later on Thursday, Iran’s Nour News website, which is close to the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), carried a report refuting the Reuters claim and stressing that it only aims to depict a false image of what is going on in Vienna in order to boost the Western parties’ standing in the negotiations and prove that they have gained major concessions from the Iranian side.
“Iran has stated from the beginning that as long as the United States does not take the necessary steps to remove sanctions, the Islamic Republic will not do anything to reduce its nuclear activities, which are in line with its obligations under the JCPOA,” the report said, referring to the 2015 Iran deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
Washington left the JCPOA in 2018 and began to implement what it called the “maximum pressure” campaign of sanctions against the Islamic Republic, depriving the country of the economic benefits of the agreement, including the removal of sanctions, for which Iran had agreed to certain caps on its nuclear activities.
In the meantime, the other parties to the deal, in particular France, Britain and Germany, only paid lip service to safeguarding Iran’s economic dividends as promised under the JCPOA, prompting Iran – after an entire year of “strategic patience” – to reduce its nuclear obligations in a legal move under the deal.
The Vienna talks began last April on the assumption that the US, under the Joe Biden administration, is willing to repeal the so-called maximum pressure policy pursued by former president Donald Trump.
Tehran says it won’t settle for anything less than the removal of all US sanctions in a verifiable manner. It also wants guarantees that Washington would not abandon the agreement again.