Iran ‘very optimistic’ about nuke deal, but says West and US to blame if talks fail

Foreign minister tells CNN that Western powers need to be ‘realistic’ but Tehran is serious about wanting to reach an agreement

Screen capture from video of Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian during an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, on Febraury 20, 2022. (Twitter)
Screen capture from video of Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian during an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, on Febraury 20, 2022. (Twitter)

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told CNN that he is “very optimistic” about reaching an agreement in ongoing talks with world powers in Vienna to revive a landmark 2015 agreement on Iran’s nuclear program.

He made the comments in an interview with Christiane Amanpour, who tweeted Saturday a short clip of her interview with Amir-Abdollahian during which he also said Western powers and the US would be to blame if the negotiations to save the faltering Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action were unsuccessful.

Recent remarks by senior officials from the countries that are party to the talks have indicated a deal could be reached soon, but that the way forward was delicate and agreement was still uncertain.

“We are very optimistic about the results of the Vienna talks,” Amir-Abdollahian said.

The Iranian minister explained that his confidence stemmed from Iran’s new president Ebrahim Raisi having a “serious will to achieve a good deal with the other side as a result of the Vienna talks.”

Amir-Abdollahian said the talks are at a “very sensitive time and the other side should be realistic and if the talks fail we believe it is the Americans and the other side that are responsible for it.”

Amir-Abdollahian also said Iran has shown “seriousness,” a word US officials have used to describe Washington’s expectation from the Iranians. Last week a US State Department Spokesperson said an agreement could be reached in days if Iran “shows seriousness.”

Negotiators from Iran and the remaining parties to the agreement — Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China — are working in Vienna to restore life to the JCPOA, which granted Iran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.

On Saturday Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz met with US Vice President Kamala Harris on the sidelines of the annual Munich Security Conference for a meeting focused on the issue of ongoing Iran nuclear talks, as well as the situation in Ukraine, according to Gantz.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz meets with US Vice President Kamala Harris during the Munich Security Conference, on February 19, 2022. (Courtesy/Defense Ministry)

The US has participated indirectly in the Vienna talks because it withdrew from the deal in 2018 under then-US president Donald Trump. US President Joe Biden has signaled that he wants to rejoin the deal.

Under Trump, the US reimposed heavy sanctions on Iran. Tehran has responded by publicly increasing the purity and amounts of uranium it enriches and stockpiles, in breach of the accord.

Israel opposed the original agreement when it was signed in 2015, with then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu arguing that it actually paved the path to an Iranian nuclear arsenal. Israel has publicly vowed it will not allow Iran to get nuclear weapons.

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