Rouhani: US failing to seize ‘golden chance’ for win-win bargain
Iran said on Friday that the lifting of US sanctions would be the first step in reviving the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
“Iran will stop [its] remedial nuclear steps once the sanctions are lifted and verified,” Deputy Foreign Minister Seyyed Abbas Araqchi said during a video conference of signatories to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), attended by representatives of Russia, China, Britain, France Germany and the European Union.
The United States pulled out of the nuclear deal unilaterally in 2018 under former president Donald Trump and imposed tough sanctions on Iran. But his successor Joe Biden indicated that the US would be willing to rejoin.
Iran says the US must lift its sanctions before Iran will make any moves to reverse measures it has taken in retaliation for the US pullout.
Araqchi, Iran's nuclear negotiator in Friday’s virtual meeting, said that any “return by the US to the nuclear deal does not require any negotiation and the path is quite clear”.
“The US can return to the deal and stop breaching the law in the same way it withdrew from the deal and imposed illegal sanctions on Iran,” he said, according to AP.
Iran and other JCPOA members also agreed to meet for talks in Vienna on Tuesday.
However, Araqchi rejected any meeting with the United States during the upcoming session.
“The United States will not attend any meeting in which Iran is present, including the meeting of the Joint Commission (of the nuclear accord), and that is certain,” Reuters quoted him saying.
“It is their business, whether other parties to (the nuclear accord) seek to consult bilaterally or multilaterally with the US..., whether in Vienna or elsewhere,” Araqchi added. “The Iranian delegation will not have any talks with the US delegation at any level.”
‘Choreographed’ lifting of sanctions
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif reiterated that the aim of the Tuesday meeting would be to "rapidly finalize sanction-lifting & nuclear measures for choreographed removal of all sanctions, followed by Iran ceasing remedial measures".
"No Iran-US meeting. Unnecessary," he wrote on Twitter.
President Hassan Rouhani on Thursday said the US has so far failed to seize the “golden chance” for a “win-win bargain”.
“If they (the US) return to the JCPOA, Iran will also return to its commitments,” Rouhani said, Press TV reported.
“This would mean a win-win bargain for the region and the entire world, which would benefit them. The Americans were not able to understand that and failed to seize this golden opportunity. They have been dragging their feet, and we have been receiving messages and news, which show this new [US] administration is far from the reality about Iran,” the president added.
He said the American officials’ “lack of knowledge” about Iran is ridiculous, adding that if they could get to know the great people of Iran, its great civilization, and its golden homeland, they would not treat Iranians with humility.
‘Separate contacts’ in Vienna
The EU said in a statement that participants would meet "to clearly identify sanctions lifting and nuclear implementation measures, including through convening meetings of the relevant expert groups".
The EU said mediators “will also intensify separate contacts in Vienna with all JCPOA participants and the United States".
According to the statement, participants “recognized the prospect of a full return of the US to the JCPOA, and underlined their readiness to positively address this in a joint effort”.
Participants “emphasized their commitment to preserve the JCPOA and discussed modalities to ensure the return to its full and effective implementation," it added.
Senior EU diplomat Enrique Mora, who chaired the talks due to Brussels' capacity of coordinator, described Friday's virtual meeting as "positive", but warned there was much left to do to revive the deal.
"Substantial work ahead for a key opportunity to bring JCPOA back to life," he tweeted, AFP reported.
Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia's ambassador to international organizations in Vienna, said that "the impression is that we are on the right track, but the way ahead will not be easy and will require intensive efforts. The stakeholders seem to be ready for that”.
A “possible US return to JCPOA apparently will require full Washington’s compliance with the nuclear deal” and a UN Security Council resolution that endorses the accord, he tweeted.