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EghtesadOnline: Iran will continue the path of diplomacy to reach a decent, strong and lasting agreement on the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal and secure sanctions relief, the Iranian top diplomat said.

“We seek to ensure sanctions lifting, but with honor and [under] a sustainable agreement,” Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said in a first meeting of the foreign economic relations coordination taskforce on Sunday, IRNA reported. 

Iran has been engaged in negotiations in Vienna, Austria, for a year to restore the nuclear deal, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, that has been unravelling since the United States pulled out and Tehran rolled back on its commitments in response to the reimposition of tough sanctions. 

Despite good progress and agreement on the majority of differences, the talks have been paused for over a month over a few outstanding issues. 

Amir-Abdollahian said discussions on technical issues with the three European parties were nearly concluded when the Russia-Ukraine war broke.

“Western countries said Russia [also a JCPOA member] would not cooperate even if an agreement is finalized, given its conflict in Ukraine,” he said. 

Moscow, however, has assured Iran that it would not pose an obstacle in the way of a possible agreement, according to the foreign minister. 

“On the sidelines of my trip to China, [Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov] once again stressed that if we reach the final stage of an agreement, Russia would support it,” he said. 

China also announced its complete alignment with Iran’s views and vowed support for a deal once it is finalized, he added. 



Inconsistent Approach 

Amir-Abdollahian said although a major part of the agreement’s text has achieved consensus, the US has made demands over the past few weeks that contradict some clauses of the script.

He did not specify Washington’s propositions, but said the European parties, as well as Russia and China, are also critical of the US approach, he added. 

“The method the US is adopting is not consistent with the spirit of cooperation ruling the Vienna talks,” he said.  

Iran blames the US for the suspension of Vienna talks, saying the agreement is awaiting America’s political decision. 

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh had earlier censured the US government for seeking to use all possible legal tools to avoid performing its duties, saying Washington is taking the JCPOA hostage for the sake of its domestic partisan issues.

On the need for direct contact with the American side, he said Iran derived no benefit from engaging in unmediated talks with the US, especially given that Washington has done nothing on the ground besides its expression of goodwill. 

“Before any agreement, they could announce one or two tangible measures to show they have good faith in practice as well,” he said. “For instance, they could release part of the Iranian nation’s frozen revenues.”

As another option, President Joe Biden could revoke one of the sanctions with his executive order as a gesture of goodwill, he added. 

Nevertheless, communication still happens between Iran and the US through non-paper contact and the European Union coordinator of the JCPOA, Amir-Abdollahian said. 

“We have explicitly told the Americans to stop impeding the talks,” he said. 

It is believed that US terror designation of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps is the key stumbling block to an agreement on JCPOA revival. 

Iran wants the elite military group to be removed from the list of terrorist organizations, describing it as one of the Islamic Republic’s red lines, while the US refuses to do so.

US special envoy for Iran Rob Malley has recently said the IRGC “will remain sanctioned under US law and our policies, and our perceptions [of it] will not change.”


JCPOA diplomacy