Iran negotiator: US sanctions must be lifted in one step
President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday welcomed the beginning of a "new chapter" to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal signed between Iran and the world powers, one day after signatories to the accord held fresh talks in Vienna in an effort to revitalize it.
“We are witnessing a new chapter in reviving the JCPOA,” Rouhani said in cabinet meeting, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – the official name of the Iran nuclear deal.
“Today, a unanimous voice is heard,” said the president, adding that all concerned parties “have come to the conclusion that there is no better solution than the JCPOA and that there is no other way but the full implementation of the nuclear deal”.
On Tuesday, representatives of Iran, Russia, China, France, Britain and the European Union held the 18th meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission in the Austrian capital during which they agreed to establish two working groups, one of which would focus on how to get the US to lift the sanctions it imposed on Iran after departing the deal in May 2018.
The other working group will focus on how to get Tehran back into compliance with the limits set by the JCPOA on enrichment and stockpiles of enriched uranium.
The United States has been absent from the commission since former American president Donald Trump took Washington out of the JCPOA and reimposed and reinforced the sanctions that the nuclear accord had lifted.
The US was not present at Tuesday's discussions because Iran has refused to meet the US delegation so long as its sanctions remain in place.
Rouhani said the US wants to “repent” and reenter the nuclear deal.
“If the US demonstrates enough seriousness and necessary sincerity, that's all we ask... I think we'll be able to negotiate in a short time, if necessary, with the other parties to the deal," he said.
“The US can fulfill its commitments without negotiation.”
The talks are to resume in Vienna on Friday.
The US gave an upbeat assessment of the opening session.
"We do see this as a constructive and certainly welcome step," State Department spokesman Ned Price said, according to AFP.
Enrique Mora, the deputy of European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell who chaired the Vienna meeting, described the event as “constructive”.
A spokesperson for the French Foreign Ministry welcomed the resumption of Iran nuclear talks in Vienna, saying: “The ongoing negotiations should allow [the participants] to soon reach an agreement on the actions necessary to bring Iran and the United States back to full compliance with the nuclear agreement.”
Sanctions must be lifted in one step
After the meeting, Iran’s negotiator Seyyed Abbas Araqchi told Press TV that the United States must lift its sanctions altogether and in one step if it truly seeks to rejoin the JCPOA.
“That is quite logical and a very reasonable demand by the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Araqchi said. “They (Americans) have left the JCPOA, and they have imposed sanctions. So obviously if they want to come back, they will have to lift all those sanctions, all together, in one step.”
The Iranian senior diplomat noted that Iran had never sought to avoid compliance with the nuclear accord, saying if Tehran was after such a goal, it would have left the deal far earlier after Washington quit it.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman also said on Wednesday the only path for the United States to rejoin the JCPOA is “effective removal of all sanctions”.
“The only US ‘path back’ to the Deal is: full compliance & effective removal of ALL imposed, reimposed & relabeled sanctions,” Saeed Khatibzadeh tweeted.
“Only after that, we'll stop our remedial measures,” he added, pointing to the countermeasures taken by Iran one year after the US pullout.