Iran rules out any gradual lifting of sanctions

April 3, 2021 - 21:14

TEHRAN – Iran is not considering any step-by-step process for lifting the sanctions the U.S. imposed on Iran over the course of the Trump administration, says Saeed Khatibzadeh, spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry. 

“As has been clearly stated many times, no step-by-step plan is being considered,” Khatibzadeh told Press TV on Saturday.

Khatibzadeh reiterated the position of Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, underlining the need for the U.S. to lift all sanctions. 

“The definitive policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran is the lifting of all U.S. sanctions, whether those which Trump reimposed after withdrawing from the JCPOA or those which he initiated, as well as sanctions imposed under any other heading,” the spokesman said.

The Leader laid out Iran’s policy on the nuclear deal -officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)- in a recent speech delivered on the occasion of the Persian New Year.

He outlined a process in which the U.S. should lift all sanctions first in order for Iran to fully resume implementing the JCPOA.

“This policy is that the Americans should lift all sanctions. After that, we will verify. If the sanctions have been lifted, we will return to our Barjam [JCPOA] commitments. We will return without any problem. This is a definite policy. We do not consider American promises to be valid. If they say that they will lift them on paper, this is of no use. What is necessary is action! They should lift the sanctions in practice. Subsequently, we will verify their statements to make sure that the sanctions have been lifted. Then, we will resume our commitments,” the Leader said on March 21. Ayatollah Khamenei reiterated that “this policy will not be violated in any way.”

The spokesman’s remarks came in response to claims made by U.S. State Department deputy spokeswoman Jalina Porter about a planned meeting by representatives of Iran and other countries in Vienna Tuesday to discuss the troubled 2015 nuclear deal.

Porter said Friday that the discussion would focus on “the nuclear steps that Iran would need to take in order to return to compliance with the terms of the JCPOA.”

In the talks, American officials would be down the hall while British, German, French, Chinese and Russian officials meet with Iran.

And that would be joined with discussion of “the sanctions relief steps that the United States would need to take in order to return to compliance, as well,” Porter said, an acknowledgment that the United States is currently in violation of the accord.

The Tuesday meeting seems was arranged during the Friday meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission, which was held virtually.

The meeting, chaired by one of the European Union’s top diplomats Enrique Mora, was attended by representatives of China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and Iran at the level of deputy foreign ministers and political directors.

Under the terms of the JCPOA, the Joint Commission is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the agreement.

During the meeting, participants discussed the prospect of a U.S. return to the JCPOA, according to a statement issued by the Iranian Foreign Ministry after the meeting. 

“In line with the joint ministerial statement of 21 December, participants recognized the prospect of a full return of the U.S. to the JCPOA, and underlined their readiness to positively address this in a joint effort,” the statement said.

Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araghchi represented Iran in the meeting. He elaborated on Iran’s principled policies, and said the removal of U.S. sanctions is the first step to revive the JCPOA.

“Iran will stop its remedial nuclear measures immediately after it verifies the lifting of sanctions,” he said.

The Iranian diplomat pointed out that there is no need for any negotiation for the United States’ return to the JCPOA, as it is totally clear how the U.S. can return.

“The United States can get back to the deal and put an end to law-breaking in the same way as it left the JCPOA and imposed unlawful sanctions against Iran,” Araghchi stated.

During the meeting, the JCPOA parties also highlighted the disastrous impacts of the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA on Iran’s ability to reap the benefits of the deal, and stressed that time should not be wasted at this juncture.

In the meeting, the JCPOA member states emphasized their commitment to preserving the deal, and agreed to resume the Joint Commission session in Vienna next week, in order to continue consultations and clearly identify sanctions lifting and nuclear implementation measures, including through convening meetings of the relevant expert groups.

The chair of the meeting also issued a similar statement saying that the JCPOA coordinator will also intensify separate contacts in Vienna with all JCPOA participants and the United States.

This part of the European statement sparked a wave of speculations over a possible meeting between Iran and the U.S. in Vienna. Western news media reported that Iran and the U.S. will meet in Vienna, a claim that was quickly rejected by Iran. 

Araghchi denied reports about the U.S.’s participation in the upcoming meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission in Vienna.

“The Vienna meeting which will be attended by the Iranian delegation is a meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission aimed at discussing the U.S. possible return to the nuclear deal, and will be attended only by the current parties to the JCPOA,” Araqchi said in a statement on Friday.

“The U.S. will not be present at any meeting attended by Iran, including the meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission, and that is definite,” he added.

He said it is up to other JCPOA parties if they would like to hold bilateral or multilateral consultations with the U.S. regarding the measures it must take, either in Vienna or in any other place.

“That is something which has happened before,” Araghchi said.

“The Iranian delegation, however, will not hold negotiations with the American delegation at any level,” he emphasized.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also ruled out any prospect for a meeting between Iran and the U.S.

“At virtual JCPOA JC meeting, Iran & EU/E3+2 agreed to resume in-person talks in Vienna next Tues. Aim: Rapidly finalize sanction-lifting & nuclear measures for choreographed removal of all sanctions, followed by Iran ceasing remedial measures. No Iran-US meeting. Unnecessary,” the chief Iranian diplomat tweeted on Friday. 

Iran has so far ruled out at least two things: Negotiations over a possible U.S. return to the JCPOA and the resumption of Iran’s compliance with the deal without the lifting of the U.S. sanctions. 

Iran has said there is no need for new negotiations over the U.S. return to the nuclear deal. Moreover, Iran has made it clear that any step by Iran to resume full compliance with the JCPOA would require the U.S. to lift all sanctions first.

Following the Friday meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission, an informed source told Press TV that the only way the United States could see Iran stop its counter-measures under the 2015 nuclear deal is for Washington to lift all the sanctions it imposed on the Islamic Republic in the aftermath of its withdrawal from the agreement some three years ago.

The source referred to the negotiations earlier on Friday within the framework of the joint commission of the parties to the deal and said Iran, during the session, emphasized the necessity of a “consistent removal” of all the U.S. sanctions and its verification before Tehran’s return to full compliance.

The source added that Iran will accept nothing from the JCPOA Joint Commission but the removal of all the sanctions by the United States. According to the source, in Friday’s meeting, the consensus in Iran on the issue was emphasized.


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