Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani

Iran Tells US To Change ‘Hostile Behavior’ For A Shift In Relations

Monday, 06/26/2023

Iran expects a “fundamental” change of behavior by the United States before a shift in relations can occur, the spokesman of foreign ministry said on Monday.

In his weekly media briefing, spokesman Nasser Kanaani repeated the Iranian regime’s narrative of “decades of crimes” by the United States.

“Iran’s approach to America emanates from their hostile behavior, and as long as America’s behavior does not fundamentally change, it is natural that Iran’s attitude toward America remains the same,” Kanaani announced.

He was speaking in the context of improving relations with neighboring countries and reports of secret talks and even an ‘understanding’ with the United States.

The reality that Tehran and Washington have been holding mediated talks in Oman, Qatar and even having direct contacts in New York is all but certain. Numerous media reports and statements by Israeli officials have pointed to a possible unwritten deal, whereby the US would allow the release of Iran’s frozen funds in exchange for some temporary restraint in uranium enrichment.

The Biden administration has denied any such “interim deal” but few believe that some kind negotiation is not taking place behind the scenes.

Kanaani also added that Tehran does not link its foreign policy and pursuit of national interests to relations with any one country or one issue, referring to the United States and the dispute over its nuclear program.

However, Kanaani also spoke about exchanging prisoners, an issue that Washington has hinted is a subject of talks and can reduce tensions and possibly open the way for more agreements.

The Iranian spokesman said that the United States should free Iranian citizens that “the American regime has jailed based on various false excuses related to violating sanctions.” Kanaani said that US sanctions in essence are illegal, and Iran has been trying for years to free these prisoners.

From left, Siamak Namazi, Emad Shargi and Morad Tahbaz

The Iranian regime is currently holding three American dual-nationals hostage based on trumped-up charges of spying and after bogus trials without due process of law. On the other hand, individuals arrested in the US for violating sanctions have received the benefits of full and transparent trials.

Kanaani claimed that in the past and in different periods certain agreements were reached with Washington through intermediaries but when it came to implementation the US was not ready to make decisions. He confirmed that currently talks are taking place with the help of parties that have “goodwill” in this regard, but “we need to see if America is ready to make decisions or not.”

Earlier this month, the Biden administration allowed Iraq to release $2.7 billion it owed Iran for energy imports – part of a larger amount in Iraqi banks. This was seen as a gesture to reach a deal on prisoners, but so far nothing has been finalized.

It is not clear if the released funds will be made available to Tehran in cash US dollars or in credits that Iran can use to import food and medicine. No details were announced about the $2.7 billion released by Iraq. South Korea holds another $7 billion and apparently the unresolved issues in prisoner exchange revolves around these funds and how Iran can access the money.

At the same time, it is perhaps inevitable that release of the frozen funds and exchange of prisoners become entangled with the nuclear issue, especially if an interim deal is being discussed.

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