Iranian foreign minister says revival of JCPOA deal is close
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian says a final agreement between Iran and the P4+1 group of countries over the removal of sanctions and a possible revival of the landmark 2015 deal is close but there are "few important" issues that need to be resolved.
Amir-Abdollahian made the remarks in a live televised interview on Saturday a few hours before a planned visit to Tehran by European Union deputy foreign policy chief Enrique Mora, who also acts as the coordinator for the talks between Iran and the five remaining parties to the deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
He added that any possible agreement "will not go beyond the JCPOA" framework, emphasizing, "We have managed to make major progress in the area of sanctions removal."
The top Iranian diplomat noted that Mora is due in Tehran in a few hours to discuss the latest developments on the Vienna talks.
He dismissed certain Western media reports claiming that Russia has taken the final agreement in Vienna hostage following the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, saying he held a phone call with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov and then traveled to Moscow to shed light on the issue.
Amir-Abdollahian said the Americans have sought to hold "direct" talks with Iran to prove what they called good faith of President Joe Biden's administration, adding, "We … declared that if the US has goodwill, it should remove sanctions against Iran … We want practical measures."
He emphasized that "excessive demands" of the US are the main obstacle that prevent the sides from reaching an agreement in the Vienna talks.
He said Iran will not back down on its nuclear achievements. "If you want to allay your concerns about nuclear issues, you must remove the oppressive sanctions."
Earlier this month, the Vienna talks were paused for an undetermined period of time despite reports suggesting that they were in the “final stages.”
The United States, which is blamed for the current stalemate, is reluctant to take confidence-building measures due to its erroneous bias, procrastination in decision-making and excessive demands.
Iranian officials have repeatedly said the US needs to remove all illegal sanctions against the Islamic Republic in a verifiable manner and offer guarantees that a new US administration will not breach the JCPOA again before it can rejoin the deal.
Former US president Donald Trump unilaterally left the JCPOA in May 2018 and re-imposed the anti-Iran sanctions that the deal had lifted. He also placed additional sanctions on Iran under other pretexts not related to the nuclear case as part of his “maximum pressure” campaign.
In May 2019, following a year of strategic patience, Iran decided to let go of some of the restrictions on its nuclear energy program, resorting to its legal rights under the JCPOA, which grants a party the right to suspend its contractual commitments in case of non-compliance by the other side.
The Biden administration says it is willing to compensate for Trump’s mistake and rejoin the deal, but it has retained the sanctions as leverage.