In an exclusive interview with CNN’s Chritian Amanpour in Munich earlier this week,
Amir Abdollahian said Iran is optimistic about reaching an agreement in Vienna because the administration of President Ebrahim Raisi has a strong will to achieve a good deal.
Amir Abdollahain said in order to get close to a good agreement, the Iranian team showed good initiatives and flexibility, but now it’s the Western side including the US and the European troika that should show flexibility and initiatives.
The top diplomat added that if the US and the three European countries show flexibility and initiatives, then the negotiations will come to a conclusion in a matter of a few hours or days. Amir Abdollahian added that on the one hand, Iran is receiving messages from US president Joe Biden that he has good will and on the other hand, the US envoy to the Vienna talks Robert Malley refuses to show any flexibility at the negotiating table.
He noted that the US is responsible for the failure of the JCPOA in the first place and now it should accept the responsibility for this and show the required flexibility for the negotiations to come to a definite conclusion.
Iran’s red lines in Vienna talks
Elsewhere in the interview, Amir Abdollahain said there are some remaining issues that constitute Iran’s red lines.
He criticized the Western parties for failing to give a practical and reliable initiative regarding the issue of guarantees, adding Iran insists that the nuclear issue and the removal of sanctions should be resolved in the form of a package. Amir Abdollahian also said Iran will not at the same time accept a strict supervision system by the IAEA but while some of its issues remain on the agenda of the agency’s Board of Governors. The top diplomat noted that in 2015 also, the issue of safeguards was resolved in a political agreement and that the two sides can repeat that model.
He warned that if the US and the Western sides do not act realistically at this sensitive moment, they will be definitely responsible for the possible failure of the talks.
“Tall wall of mistrust between Iran and the US”
In other remarks, the Iranian foreign minister cited the wrong policies of the US vis-à-vis Iran as the reason for Tehran’s refusal to talk directly with the US.
He further said this policy has created a “a tall wall of mistrust” between Iran and the US.
Amir Abdollahian said he has said in response to requests for direct negotiations that the Americans should change their behavior.
“Mr. Biden cannot talk of good will on the one hand and on the other hand, in the past few months, he has imposed sanctions against real and legal persons three times”, Amir Abdollahian told Amanpour.
He noted that this means Biden is following in the footsteps of Trump and that Iran cannot understand this paradoxical behavior.
The top diplomat noted that if the US president has good will, he should show a practical initiative as a gesture of good will, for example, by unfreezing some of the Iranian assets.
“US foiled prisoner swap”
Asked about the release of Western nationals jailed in Iran on espionage charges, Amir Abdollahian said for Iran, the issue of swapping prisoners is completely a humanitarian one.
He said last year, Iran and the Western parties came close to exchanging prisoners including Nazanin Ratclif regardless of the Vienna talks but in the last minute, the US announced that all this should be included in a complete package and the prisoner exchange did not take place. Maybe the US wants to cover the issue of prisoners as part of the Vienna talks.
He reiterated that Iran believes this is a humanitarian issue and can be considered as an urgent measure outside the Vienna negotiations.