| 16 April 2024, Tuesday |

Iran says Vienna talks to progress if US abolishes Trump’s failed legacy

Iran says the ongoing Vienna talks will progress if the US abolishes former president Donald Trump’s failed “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran and commits to its obligations under the 2015 nuclear deal.

“Consultations will progress more easily if the US decides to move away from Trump’s failed legacy and live up to its commitments,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told a weekly press briefing on Monday.

He was referring to talks between Iran and the remaining parties to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany – in Vienna to try to remove the sanctions and bring back the US into line.

Trump abandoned the nuclear agreement in May 2018 and unleashed the most aggressive sanctions ever against Iran under his “maximum pressure” campaign.

American diplomats are also in the Austrian capital, but they are not allowed to participate in the discussions, being kept abreast of the negotiations by the Europeans.

Khatibzadeh stressed that there are no direct or indirect talks between Tehran and Washington.

He said the Americans know very well that Iran’s remedial measures, which it began to take in response to the US withdrawal and provocations, were part of the country’s rights under the JCPOA.

These measures “will be ceased only when the US removes the sanctions and we verify that,” the spokesman said, repeating Iran’s stance that the measures are reversible provided that the US honors the deal in a verifiable manner.

According to Khatibzadeh, one of the key issues is that the Biden administration does not recognize some of the sanctions imposed under Trump related to the JCPOA, but the Iranian negotiators have “stressed that those sanctions were intended to make a return to the nuclear accord more difficult.”

“At the time, Trump administration officials unashamedly said that the sanctions were imposed with that motive,” the spokesman added.

‘No new deal besides JCPOA’

Asked whether the US has shown signs of flexibility in removing the sanctions, Khatibzadeh said the answer was positive, but stressed that what counts is what is achieved at the end of the negotiations.

“The US must announce return to its commitments, fulfill them and remove its sanctions,” he said.

Khatibzadeh also underscored that there will be “no new agreement apart from the JCPOA.”

He said the current Vienna talks are held with the aim of clarifying the path of the violator’s return to its commitments under the JCPOA.

The remarks came two days after Iran’s chief negotiator Abbas Araqchi said a “new understanding” is emerging at the Vienna talks.

“We think that the talks have reached a stage where parties are able to begin to work on a joint draft,” Araqchi said after the Saturday meeting. “It seems that a new understanding is taking shape, and now there is agreement over final goals.”

Elsewhere during the press conference, Khatibzadeh said Iran has not forgotten the damage inflicted by the US sanctions upon the Iranian society.

“But that’s a separate issue that needs to be addressed at the right time,” he added.