| 5 March 2024, Tuesday |

Zarif: US must stop trying to use illegal economic war as negotiating influence.

Iran’s foreign minister says he reminded his British counterpart during a phone conversation that the United States must stop trying to use its illegal economic war against Iran as “leverage” in the ongoing talks in the Austrian capital with the objective of reanimating the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement.

Days earlier, Iran and the remaining parties to the deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), agreed to pause the Vienna talks for the fifth time and return to their capitals for further consultations over unresolved points of contention.

The negotiations, which began early in April, have been described as constructive and positive, but have not led to a final conclusion on how to restore the JCPOA and which sanctions will be removed in order for Iran to reverse the expansion of its nuclear activities.

Iran insists that all the sanctions that were imposed since the JCPOA went into effect in 2015 must be removed. The US, however, regards certain sanctions as consistent with the deal, making the prospects of reaching an agreement uncertain.

American news website Politico reported on Friday that the negotiators have produced at least 20 pages of text with various options on how to solve the remaining hurdles, noting that the removal of sanctions is among long-running points of contention.

“The US and Iran still can’t agree on which ones the US will repeal,” Politico said, adding, “Iran wants guarantees the US won’t abandon the deal – again.”

The JCPOA was ditched by former US President Donald Trump in 2018. In quitting, he targeted Iran’s economy with the “worst sanctions ever” in hopes of bringing Tehran to its knees.