US says ready to lift sanctions ‘inconsistent’ with nuclear deal
The first week of talks to save the landmark 2015 deal on Iran’s nuclear program had produced “positive momentum” with Tehran putting forward a “logical path” to full compliance with the accord.
The deal – known as the JCPOA – has been disintegrating since former US president Donald Trump dramatically withdrew from it in 2018 and reimposed sanctions, prompting Iran a year later to retaliate by exceeding the limits on nuclear activity laid down in the deal.
Diplomats from the remaining parties to the JCPOA – Iran, China, Britain, France, Germany and Russia – have been meeting in a hotel in Vienna, with an American delegation engaging in talks with its European allies nearby, AFP reported.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Friday that Tehran proposed a “logical path to full JCPOA compliance”.
“[The] US – which caused this crisis – should return to full compliance first; Iran will reciprocate following rapid verification; All Trump sanctions were anti-JCPOA & must be removed – w/o distinction between arbitrary designations,” Zarif tweeted.
Iran’s top negotiator Seyyed Abbas Araqchi described the talks as “constructive”.
Araqchi added that Iran stands ready for “serious interactions” with the co-signatories, but this will depend on the seriousness and political will of the other parties.
He said the termination of “all the American sanctions devised under Trump is the necessary step for the revival of the JCPOA. Only after verification [of the sanctions removal], Iran will be ready to stop its remedial measures and return to full compliance”.
On Thursday, Araqchi said that there are signs that the Americans are reviewing their positions and are moving toward removing all sanctions.
“But we are not yet in a position to judge, and negotiations have not yet been concluded,” Araqchi said, adding that there is a long path forward but the talks are constructive, Press TV wrote.
Meaning of verification of sanctions removal
Iran’s Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said Thursday any US claim to having removed Iran’s sanctions must be verified by Tehran.
“Verification [of US sanctions removal] means [being capable of] selling oil in an official manner, with ease and under normal conditions, and its money be received by Iran,” the Leader added in a post on his Instagram page.
The Leader’s Instagram account also released a video in which Ayatollah Khamenei stated that commitment on one side should be reciprocated by commitment on the other side and the US must remove all sanctions if the West wants Iran to return to full JCPOA compliance.
Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said other signatories to the deal have no right to set conditions for Tehran as long as they have not fulfilled their obligations, emphasizing that this is Iran’s definitive policy from which Tehran will not step back.
US President Joe Biden has said he is willing to return to the deal but Iran has refused negotiations with Washington as long as its sanctions against Tehran remain in place.
EU negotiators in Vienna have therefore been acting as intermediaries between parties to the main talks and American diplomats, who are based in a hotel close to the main talks.
In the meantime, two expert-level groups – on sanctions lifting and nuclear issues – have been meeting over the course of the week to explore the actions that could be taken by Iran and the US to save the deal.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement diplomats would meet again on Wednesday in Vienna. Working groups, which are chaired by the European Union and exclude the United States, will continue their work in the background.
US ready to lift 'inconsistent’ sanctions
US State Department spokesman Ned Price on Thursday described the talks as constructive and accomplishing.
Price also voiced his country’s preparedness to “take the necessary steps to return to compliance with the JCPOA and that would include lifting sanctions that are inconsistent with the JCPOA”.
Russian Ambassador to the UN in Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov said Friday the remaining JCPOA participants “took stock of the work done by experts over the last three days and noted with satisfaction the initial progress made”.
He added in a tweet that diplomats “will reconvene next week in order to maintain the positive momentum”.
“All parties have narrowed down their differences and we do see the momentum for gradually evolving consensus,” Wang Qun, China’s ambassador to the UN atomic watchdog, told reporters after the meeting, Reuters reported.
Resolve for diplomacy
The European Union on Friday issued a statement elaborating on the content of the negotiations and the outcome.
“Participants took stock of the discussions held at various levels since the last Joint Commission in view of a possible return of the US to the JCPOA and discussed modalities to ensure the return to its full and effective implementation,” the statement said.
The participants emphasized “their resolve to further pursue the ongoing joint diplomatic effort. The coordinator will continue his separate contacts with all JCPOA participants and the United States,” the statement read.