Iran reiterated its demands Monday that the United States should lift all sanction at once and guarantee that it will never leave the nuclear agreement again.
Foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh in his weekly briefing on Monday, said that US officials commenting on Iran’s actions or words should know that the US is not a member of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
He was responding to the latest statement by US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan who told the CNN on Sunday that Iran has not shown a willingness to return to the nuclear agreement.
“The United States should know that it is not a member of the JCPOA and cannot…have demands from JCPOA members. It should first prove its brotherhood,” he said. “We are glad that Americans constantly repeat their intention and will. Perhaps they want to remove all the illegal and extra-territorial sanctions that were imposed by the former US government. But what is important is action,” Khatibzadeh retorted.
Iran accepted indirect negotiations with the US in Vienna within the overall framework of the JCPOA. The talks lasted from April to June, when Iran suspended its participation after the election of its hardline president Ebrahim Raisi (Raeesi). Iran delayed the resumption of the talks for almost five months and only last week agreed to resume negotiations at the end of November.
Khatibzadeh revealed Iran’s new and tougher negotiating posture by claiming that in the first six round of talks “no agreement was reached”, therefore there was never an understanding about a “step-by- step” return to the JCPOA. This argument seems aimed at boosting Iran's demand for a one-step removal of US sanctions.
What Iran has seen from the Biden Administration’s actions has contradicted their declared intentions, Khatibazadeh said and added, “The path for the United States to return to JCPOA is clear. As the party guilty of the current situation, it should retrace its steps from the path it has followed.”
The official news agency IRNA, mentioned the US acceptance of guilt and responsibility as the third condition for its return to the JCPOA.
The foreign ministry spokesman then insisted that sanctions imposed after former president Donald Trump withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018 should be lifted at once, in one step and “what is more important it should provide a guarantee that no future US government” will repeat what was dome in 2018.
Khatibzadeh also announced that Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Bagheri-Kani will travel to Europe at the end of the week to hold talks with members of the JCPOA.
Iran’s posture seems to have hardened recently, demanding that the US should first lift all the sanctions imposed since 2018 before Iran would be willing to negotiate with it. While until June the two sides were discussing a gradual restoration of the JCPOA, Tehran is now signaling “a simple solution”, calling on Washington to just lift all sanctions and provide a guarantee that no future US government would leave the agreement. The Biden Administration cannot provide such a guarantee if JCPOA is not a treaty, approved by the US Senate.
Washington has said its return to the 2015 nuclear deal should be negotiated alongside agreement as to how Iran reduces its nuclear program, which it has expanded and refined since 2019. But Iran seems to be more determined now to get concessions from Washington before a final agreement is reached.
Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian has directly demanded that the Biden Administration should unfreeze $10 billion of Iran’s blocked funds as a “goodwill gesture”.
Tehran is also trying to isolate the United States arguing that it cannot make demands because it is not a member of the JCPOA any longer. It appears that Tehran wants to negotiate with the three European members of the agreement – the United Kingdom, France and Germany - hoping to extract concessions as a means of pressure on Washington.