IRAN DAILY: You were optimistic about arriving at a deal before the Vienna talks came to a halt. Do you still hold onto your thought?
FARAJI-RAAD: I am still optimistic, as I was from the outset, that a deal could be hammered out in the course of the Vienna talks. However, there are events in the world that could affect other geopolitical events. The Russia-Ukraine war had its impact on the Vienna talks. But now, a main issue is being discussed, that is, to lift sanctions on the IRGC. I believe that the Americans will finally have to accept the removal of the IRGC from the sanctions list. But the delisting of the IRGC is very sensitive for American hardliners and opponents of Iran in the United States. Therefore, the US government needed a break to lobby and obtain their consent. One should take notice that in the past, Americans repeatedly insisted that time was running out, but over past several weeks, they did not raise time as an issue. Because they also know that the technical negotiations are over and there is one point left which the American side must attend to. In fact, the United States needs time now because they know that keeping the IRGC on their black list would put the future of the JCPAO at risk. I think the Americans themselves are happy that this issue will somehow be resolved, although it has now become rather difficult inside the United States.
In Iran, the foreign minister and the negotiating team came under sharp criticism. You were among those experts who believed that the Iranian delegation must receive full support. Are you still of the same opinion?
The Foreign Ministry, as the chief negotiator, is directly in charge of the revival of the JCPOA. However, the ministry is not the main decision maker. Therefore, every dialogue and action that the Iranian delegation, led by Ali Baqeri Kani, conducts is coordinated with officials and decision-making bodies such as the Supreme National Security Council. The Foreign Ministry is an honest executive body doing its job. But those who are now putting up opposition at home are not entirely honest because they raise issues that basically have nothing to do with the JCPOA. For instance, they say this or that thing has been written in the agreed draft. This is not true at all. The alleged draft was an American text, which was put forward earlier in the talks and was rejected by Iran. Should the Iranian opponents and critics resort to the American draft as a criterion and accordingly blame the foreign minister and the negotiating team? The country's top officials have said many times that Iran's policy is primarily to return to the JCPOA. It means that nothing else can be added or subtracted from the Vienna talks and that the JCPOA is the focus. However, opponents raise issues that are irrelevant to the JCPOA. It seems that some of them are basically aiming to disrupt the talks.
You have followed the Vienna talks. Have you come across a case indicative that the Iranian delegation has crossed red lines set by the Establishment?
Not at all. Based on my knowledge about chief negotiator Mr. Baqeri Kani, I believe that he implements the policies of the establishment to the letter and does not add or remove a word out of his own discretion. He is fully trusted and he will surely coordinate every important case especially with the Supreme National Security Council. He sets off for talks after getting assurances. If a new issue is raised, he will return and coordinate with the capital. In my opinion, the claim of crossing red lines and ignoring the policies of the establishment in the Vienna talks is baseless.