A top Iranian diplomat says Tehran would have to verify any step regarding the removal of US sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
Iranian Ambassador to the UN Majid Takht-Ravanchi made the remarks in an exclusive interview with khamenei.ir, the official website of Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, Press TV reported.
Takht-Ravanchi said the United States has imposed three types of sanctions against Iran.
"If even one of them is not lifted, the US return" to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) which then president, Donald Trump, left in 2018 would be pointless, he said.
President Joe Biden has indicated his government's willingness to return to the agreement, but Washington has been dragging its feet on taking any meaningful measure to undo the former US government's wrongs.
Takht-Ravanchi said, “Simply saying that 'I am ready to return to the JCPOA or that I have returned' but sanctions are not lifted in action, it will be worthless.”
“We cannot simply settle for the signature of a letter. If the signature is not coupled with a process for verifying the actions, it would be pointless,” the Iranian diplomat said.
For example, “if it is announced that Iran oil sanctions are lifted, it should be coupled with guarantees, so that there will be no problem to sell oil and buyers will be able to easily transfer money to Iran through the international banking system,” Takht-Ravanchi added.
The Iranian ambassador to the UN touched on Iran's experience with the Europeans who "told us to wait, and that they would compensate. But they even failed to deliver on their own obligations”.
When Trump abandoned the JCPOA, the Islamic Republic cooled its heels as the Europeans tinkered with a special trade channel for an entire year to purportedly blunt the former US government's efforts to pile economic pressure on Iran.
When the channel finally became operational, it proved a dud as it did not carry out any of the tasks which the Europeans had promised Iran it would.
Takht-Ravanchi's remarks echo the announcement early this month by Ayatollah Khamenei who said Iran's "final and irreversible” decision is to return to compliance with the nuclear deal only if Washington lifts sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
"If they want Iran to return to its commitments, they must completely lift all sanctions in practice, and not just in words or on paper,” the Leader said in a televised speech.
"Then we will verify and see if they have been properly lifted, and then return,” Ayatollah Khamenei said.
"This is the definitive and irreversible policy of the Islamic Republic, and all of the country’s officials are unanimous on this, and no one will deviate from it.”
The United States plans to take no additional actions in response to pressure from Iran before talks with Tehran and major powers about returning to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the White House said on Friday.
Tehran and Washington have been at odds over who should make the first step to revive the accord. Iran says the United States must first lift Trump’s sanctions while Washington says Tehran must first return to compliance with the deal.
The US said on Thursday it was ready to talk to Iran about both nations returning to the deal, which Trump, a Republican, abandoned nearly three years ago, according to Reuters.
US acting ambassador, Richard Mills, told the United Nations Security Council on Thursday that the United States was rescinding a Trump administration assertion that all UN sanctions had been reimposed on Iran in September.
Iran reacted coolly, with Foreign Minister Javad Zarif saying Tehran will “immediately reverse” actions in its nuclear program once US sanctions are lifted.
But White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki, speaking to reporters on Air Force One as Democratic President Joe Biden flew to Michigan, said "there is no plan to take additional steps" on Iran in advance of having a "diplomatic conversation."
Iran, however, believes US sanctions will soon be lifted despite continuing “diplomatic wrangling” over reviving the nuclear deal, the government spokesman said on Saturday, Reuters reported.
Ali Rabiei was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency on Saturday, “We predict with confidence that diplomatic initiatives will result in a favorable outcome despite the diplomatic wrangling, which are a natural prelude to the return of the parties to their commitments, including the lifting of all sanctions in the near future.”
Under the deal, Iran accepted curbs to its nuclear program in return for the lifting of international sanctions. Washington reimposed sanctions after Trump quit the deal, and Iran responded by violating some of the deal's nuclear limits.
Asked if the Biden administration was considering an executive order about reviving the agreement, Psaki noted the European Union has floated the idea of a conversation among Iran and the six major powers that struck the agreement: Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States.
"The Europeans have invited us and ... it is simply an invitation to have a conversation, a diplomatic conversation. We don’t need additional administrative steps to participate in that conversation," she said.
The European Union is working on organizing an informal meeting with all participants of the Iran deal and the United States, a senior EU official said on Friday.