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Iran blames US for stalled nuclear talks, but maintains ‘train not derailed’

Tehran says if Washington ends sanctions, the sides can ‘certainly and quickly’ finalize agreement; says its decision to disconnect IAEA cameras was ‘proportionate and decisive’

A person involved with security at the Uranium Conversion Facility just outside the city of Isfahan, Iran, on March 30, 2005. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)
A person involved with security at the Uranium Conversion Facility just outside the city of Isfahan, Iran, on March 30, 2005. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran said Monday the “train has still not derailed” in negotiations aiming to restore the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, despite new US sanctions on the Islamic republic.

The US on Thursday imposed sanctions on a network of Iranian petrochemical firms, as well as alleged front companies in China and the United Arab Emirates accused of helping Tehran to circumvent sanctions.

“We are still moving on the diplomatic path — this train has still not derailed, despite the US reneging on its commitments and in spite of all of its actions,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told reporters.

The Vienna talks, which began in April last year, aim to return the US to the nuclear deal, including through the lifting of sanctions on Iran, and to ensure Tehran’s full compliance with its commitments.

But the ever-delicate dialogue has been stalled since March.

The 2015 agreement, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA, gave Iran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program to guarantee that Tehran could not develop a nuclear weapon — something it has always denied wanting to do.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh speaks to the media during a press conference in Tehran, on April 25, 2022. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

But in 2018, the US withdrew from the accord under then-president Donald Trump and reimposed heavy economic sanctions that prompted Iran to publicly begin rolling back on its own commitments.

“We can certainly and quickly… finalize the agreement,” Khatibzadeh said, if the US agrees to “put aside all the sanctions.”

He also called on Washington to put an end to the so-called campaign of “maximum pressure” introduced by the Trump administration.

On June 8, the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Board of Governors adopted a resolution censuring Iran for failing to adequately explain the previous discovery of traces of enriched uranium at three sites which Tehran had not declared as having hosted nuclear activities.

On the same day, Tehran said it disconnected a number of IAEA cameras that had been monitoring its nuclear sites.

“The US decided again to prolong and delay the agreement and went to the (IAEA) board of governors meeting with the delusion of using leverage,” Khatibzadeh said Monday.

“Of course, the response by Iran was a proportionate and decisive one,” he added.

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