Iran: Nuclear talks need to see US sanctions lifted, verified and guaranteed

Islamic state vows to keep up violations of nuclear deal until it is confident Washington’s countermeasures will end

Screen capture from video of Iran's top nuclear negotiator Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri, 2020. (YouTube)
Screen capture from video of Iran's top nuclear negotiator Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri, 2020. (YouTube)

Iran said Monday that it will continue its actions in breach of a 2015 nuclear deal until it is assured that the US will lift its crippling sanctions in a verifiable manner.

During his weekly briefing to reporters, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said Iran’s top negotiator in nuclear talks, Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri, will travel this week to Britain, Germany, and France for meetings ahead of the restarting of negotiations to save the unraveling nuclear pact.

“They must lift the oppressive sanctions completely and effectively,” Khatibzadeh said, according to a report from Iran’s Mehr news agency. “They must guarantee that no administration in the United States mocks the world and international law” and again unilaterally pulls out of the agreement.

“Iran will explain its position about the JCPOA talks in detail in the forthcoming trips,” Khatibzadeh said of Bagheri’s European tour. “Iran will not stop its compensatory actions until it is confident that US sanctions will be lifted in an effective and verifiable manner with the necessary and objective guarantees.”

A date has been set for November 29 for restarting talks in Vienna to save the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action deal after a five-month gap in negotiations that began when Iran elected hardline President Ebrahim Raisi.

The nuclear talks, which are being brokered by European Union mediators as Tehran refuses to deal with United States negotiators directly, are aimed at bringing Washington and Tehran back into the JCPOA, which was abandoned by former US president Donald Trump. After exiting, the Trump administration slapped Iran with stiff sanctions, primarily targeting its oil exports.

The remaining parties to the agreement — Britain, China, France and Germany as well as Russia — are also taking part in the Vienna talks.

TV cameras in front of the ‘Grand Hotel Vienna’ where closed-door nuclear talks take place in Vienna, Austria, Sunday, June 20, 2021. (AP/Florian Schroetter)

US President Joe Biden has said he is ready to rejoin the deal, under which Iran agreed to strict limits on its nuclear activities in exchange for relief from sweeping sanctions.

Iran wants a lifting of all US sanctions imposed after Trump’s withdrawal. The Biden administration says it will only negotiate measures taken by its predecessor over the nuclear program, not steps imposed over other concerns such as human rights.

Washington insists Tehran must return to full compliance with the limits on its nuclear program it agreed to in 2015, and has warned repeatedly that the window of opportunity for a deal is closing fast.

On Friday, Iran said it had almost doubled its stock of enriched uranium in less than a month. Meanwhile, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) warned that its oversight capabilities in Iran are being weakened.

Sixty percent enrichment is the highest level to which Iran has enriched uranium and is a short technical step to weapons-grade 90%. Under the nuclear agreement, Iran was barred from enriching uranium above 3.67%.

In September, the IAEA confirmed that Iran had boosted its stocks of uranium enriched above the percentage allowed in the deal.

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