Iran says will consider direct US talks for ‘good’ nuclear deal with firm guarantees

Tehran’s foreign minister claims Washington has been indicating in ‘different ways’ that it also seeks face-to-face negotiations to save 2015 pact

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian is seen before meeting with his Russian counterpart in Moscow, on October 6, 2021. (Kirill Kudryavtsev/ Pool/AFP)
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian is seen before meeting with his Russian counterpart in Moscow, on October 6, 2021. (Kirill Kudryavtsev/ Pool/AFP)

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran will consider direct talks with the US during ongoing nuclear negotiations in Vienna, if that is required for a “good agreement,” the Iranian foreign minister said on Monday.

“Iran is not currently talking with the US directly,” Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said in televised remarks.

“But, if, during the negotiation process, we get to a point that reaching a good agreement with solid guarantees requires a level of talks with the US, we will not ignore that in our work schedule,” he added.

The 2015 deal — agreed by Iran, the US, China, Russia, Britain, France, and Germany — offered Tehran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.

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

Talks aimed at salvaging the deal started last year in Vienna between Iran and countries still part of the accord. The US has been taking part indirectly in negotiations.

Iran had previously stated that the US must “change course” and return to the nuclear deal, prior to any direct talks between the two arch-foes in Vienna.

“Our direct talks are with P4+1,” said Amir-Abdollahian, referring to Germany and permanent Security Council powers France, China, Britain and Russia.

“And our indirect negotiations with the US currently are… via (EU diplomat Enrique) Mora and one or two other countries present at Vienna talks,” he added.

“Meanwhile, the US side is sending messages in different ways that it seeks a level of direct talks with Iran,” he added during a conference at the foreign ministry in Tehran.

People walk past Palais Coburg, where closed-door nuclear talks take place in Vienna, Austria, December 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Gruber)

The negotiations, which seek to bring Washington back to the accord and ensure Iran returns to its commitments under the deal, started in April, and resumed in late November, after they were suspended in June as Iran elected ultraconservative President Ebrahim Raisi.

Last week, United States Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warned that while Washington is committed to a diplomatic solution to the standoff with Iran if Tehran is not serious about saving the 2015 pact, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the US will look at “all of the options” to prevent it from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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