Top Iranian negotiator Abbas Araqchi tells Press TV that the United States must lift its anti-Iran sanctions altogether and in one step if it truly seeks to rejoin the 2015 nuclear agreement, which it abandoned around three years ago.
Araqchi, who serves as deputy foreign minister for political affairs, was interviewed by Press TV outside the venue of a session of the Joint Commission to the Iran deal — officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — in Vienna, Austria.
He reaffirmed that the gathering did not feature any American representatives, and that it just involved Iran’s discussions with the remaining JCPOA participants or the P4+1 — Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany.
The remaining signatories “would then later talk with Americans. And that’s their business. We’re not engaged in that business. We only negotiate with the P4+1.”
He also reflected on comments coming out of Washington alleging that Tehran’s assertion that the US has to lift the sanctions first showed the Islamic Republic’s lack of seriousness in the JCPOA’s revival.
Such remarks, the official said, are indicative of “a lack of seriousness on their [own] side since they have left the JCPOA, and they have imposed sanctions.”
“That is quite logical and a very reasonable demand by the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Araqchi said. “They (Americans) have left the JCPOA, and they have imposed sanctions. So obviously if they want to come back, they will have to lift all those sanctions, all together, in one step.”
The Iranian negotiator noted that Iran had never sought to avoid compliance with the nuclear accord, saying if Tehran was after such a goal, it would have left the deal far earlier after Washington quit it.
The JCPOA Joint Commission held its 18th round of talks in the Austrian city of Vienna, with representatives of Iran, Russia, China, France and Britain in attendance.
The US has been absent from the Commission and its discussions since 2018, when former American president Donald Trump took Washington out of the JCPOA and returned the sanctions that the nuclear accord had lifted.
Araqchi commented on a tweet by the Russian envoy to Vienna-based organizations, Mikhail Ulyanov, who has called the talks “successful.”
He said the parties to the talks “are on the right track,” and Iran was likewise “hopeful,” otherwise it would not join the negotiations.
However, the official stated that the talks could only be described as a success if “the other side can meet our demands.”
Khatibzadeh to Press TV: No ‘step-for-step’ approach accepted
Echoing Araqchi, Saeed Khatibzadeh, spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, also said in an interview with Press TV that the United States has to return to compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal by lifting its anti-Iran sanctions all at once, asserting that the Islamic Republic accepts no “step-for-step” approach in this regard.
He said the talks held so far have been focused on how the parties attending the Commission “could make sure that the US will get back to full compliance and effectively remove all imposed, re-imposed or re-labelled sanctions after it ceased its participation in the JCPOA.”
The spokesman said the Commission’s first gathering had agreed to continue the talks at “two parallel expert meetings.”
A first meeting would focus on removal of the sanctions that the US returned against Iran after leaving the JCPOA in 2018, he said. A second one would address the nuclear aspect and the remedial measures that the Islamic Republic has taken to retaliate against Washington and others’ non-compliance with the nuclear deal, the official noted.
The meetings would be reporting the results of their technical discussions to the Commission, which would gather again later on.
Khatibzadeh repeated the Islamic Republic’s assertion that the country would be ready to stop its retaliatory nuclear steps should the US get back to compliance with the deal in a manner that could be verified by Tehran.
He also dismissed rumors that the US had agreed to unfreeze some Iranian funds in exchange for Tehran stopping uranium enrichment at 20-percent-level purity and end its application of advanced centrifuges.
The spokesman said Iran’s position was “crystal clear,” and again denied Tehran’s approval of any “step-for-step” plan.
“We have just one step and that is the removal of all the sanctions imposed,” Khatibzadeh said.
He spurned any step-for-step attitude towards the deal’s revival, saying such concepts were not worthy of consideration by the Islamic Republic.