Iran says assesses EU invitation to meet with U.S.

February 21, 2021 - 18:19

TEHRAN - Abbas Araqchi, the Iranian deputy foreign minister, said late on Saturday that Iran is studying a European Union proposal for an informal meeting between current members of Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal and the United States, but has yet to respond to it.

Araqchi said EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has expressed his readiness to invite the current parties to the JCPOA, namely the P4+1 and Iran, to attend an unofficial meeting to develop the future roadmap of the deal.

Speaking at a televised program, Araqchi said, “We are studying Josep Borrell’s proposal to hold an informal meeting of the 4+1 (nuclear deal members) with the United States and Iran, and we are consulting with our partners, including Russia and China, and we will respond to this proposal in the future.” 

“However, we believe a U.S. return to the nuclear accord does not require a meeting, and the only way for it is to lift the sanctions,” Araqchi added.

“About 20 to 30% of the IAEA’s oversight capacity will be reduced as a result of the implementation of the parliament’s decision.”Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also told Press TV on Sunday that the Islamic Republic will be open to negotiations on reviving the historic nuclear accord once all signatories begin fulfilling their obligations.

Zarif also said U.S. President Joe Biden has spurned predecessor Donald Trump’s Iran policy in words but has so far pursued the same course of action in practice.

Iran and the United States disagree over who should take the first step to revive the 2015 nuclear deal. Iran asserts the United States must first lift former President Donald Trump’s sanctions while Washington says Tehran must first return to compliance with the accord.

Iran insists that as the party that has abandoned its international obligations, the U.S. should take the first step by lifting the unlawful bans in a verifiable manner.

Doubling down on Iran’s firm position in that regard, Zarif reiterated that Washington would not be able to return to the JCPOA unless it removed the sanctions.

The White House said on Friday the United States plans to take no additional actions in response to pressure from Iran before potential talks with Tehran and major powers about returning to the deal, Reuters reported.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the EU had floated the idea of a conversation among Iran and the six major powers that signed the nuclear accord. “The Europeans have invited us and ... it is simply an invitation to have a conversation, a diplomatic conversation.”

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, arrived in Tehran on Saturday, weeks after Iran’s parliament determined a deadline of Feb. 23 for Washington to lift the sanctions, or Tehran would restrict IAEA inspectors’ access to the Iranian nuclear sites. 

“Grossi’s trip has nothing to do with Iran’s decision and Iran’s decision shall be implemented,” Araqchi said. “About 20 to 30% of the IAEA’s oversight capacity will be reduced as a result of the implementation of the parliament’s decision.”

Cabinet spokesman Ali Rabiei said earlier that Iran believed sanctions would soon be lifted despite continued “diplomatic wrangling” over reviving the nuclear deal, signaling Tehran’s desire to end the stalemate while not surrendering to illogical demands of the U.S. 

“We predict with confidence that diplomatic initiatives will result in a favorable result despite the diplomatic wrangling, which are a natural prelude to the return of the parties to their commitments, including the lifting of all sanctions in the near future,” Rabiei remarked.

According to the accord, Iran admitted limits to its nuclear program in return for the lifting of international sanctions. Washington reinstated sanctions after Trump quit the deal in 2018, and Iran reacted by scaling back some of its nuclear commitments.

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