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Iran says nuke deal can be reached soon, if other side gets serious

Speaking alongside visiting Irish minister, Iranian top diplomat accuses West of ‘tampering with text and playing for time’ in talks; calls for full removal of sanctions

Irish Foreign and Defense Minister Simon Coveney speaks during a joint press conference with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in Tehran, on February 14, 2022. (AFP)
Irish Foreign and Defense Minister Simon Coveney speaks during a joint press conference with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in Tehran, on February 14, 2022. (AFP)

TEHRAN, Iran — Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said an agreement to restore the 2015 nuclear deal could be at hand soon, provided that the US and European parties are serious about returning to full compliance with the deal.

Speaking at a joint press conference with visiting Irish Foreign and Defense Minister Simon Coveney, the Iranian top diplomat accused the Western parties to the talks of “tampering [with] the text and playing for time.”

“We believe that if the American side and the three European countries are serious about returning to the full implementation of their commitments as per the JCPOA, achieving a good agreement will be possible in the short term,” he said in reference to the deal’s official name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

“Our goal is the full removal of all JCPOA sanctions,” Amir-Abdollahian said, adding that “it is better for the Islamic Republic to reach an agreement today rather than tomorrow.”

The deal offered Tehran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.

But the US unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018 under then-president Donald Trump and reimposed stiff economic sanctions, prompting Tehran to begin rolling back on its commitments.

A general view of Palais Coburg, the site of a meeting where closed-door nuclear talks with Iran take place in Vienna, Austria, February 8, 2022. (Lisa Leutner/AP)

Negotiations in Vienna aim to return the US to the deal, including through the lifting of sanctions on Iran, and to ensure Tehran’s full compliance with its commitments under the pact.

But Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said during a meeting with Coveney that “the rights of the Iranian people must be respected” in the ongoing negotiations.

Coveney says he believes the Western parties to the deal to be “serious and committed.”

Ireland has been acting as the facilitator for UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which was agreed in 2015 to endorse the JCPOA.

“As facilitator, Ireland aims to assist in that process in whatever way we can, helping all parties to move this discussion forward,” Coveney said.

“The restoration of the JCPOA in full would secure rapid and substantial sanction relief for Iran,” he added.

The drive to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal resumed in late November after a pause following Raisi’s election in June.

Different parties to the agreement have in recent weeks signaled progress in the talks, with some saying the negotiations are in their final stage.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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