Top Iranian negotiator hails Vienna talks but highlights complications 

April 10, 2021 - 19:28

TEHRAN – Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araghchi expresses satisfaction at the progress made in Friday’s nuclear talks between Iran and the remaining parties to the 2015 nuclear deal.

Araghchi, who led Iran’s negotiating team in the Vienna talks, said the discussions over how to revive the nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), were moving in the right direction.

“The conclusion is that we think we are going in the right direction and that we have to continue. It was something that all delegations agreed. We had three days of intensive discussions in two working groups and the job done by the working groups was fairly good, but still they need to continue discussions, especially in the field of sanctions lifting because it is so complicated,” Araghchi told Press TV on Friday night. 

“Today, we heard the reports by the two working groups. And we decided to give them a break to go back and have more consultations in their capitals and we come back fresh on next Wednesday to resume the talks,” he added.

Explaining Iran’s stance on the verification of the lifting of sanctions, Araghchi said, “What we mean by verification is to see the effects of sanctions lifting in practice. So, it is not enough for the U.S. to sign waivers or executive orders.”

"They have to officially sign [the orders], but what matters for us is to see the effects of sanctions lifting on the ground. And we insist that we have to verify what is lifted. This needs its own methods that we are working on. I don’t know how long does it take. But we stand ready to discuss with other JCPOA participants for a fast and easy verification.”

Araghchi also reiterated Iran's position that the U.S. should take the first step to lift all its sanctions on the Islamic Republic before Tehran pedals back on some of the "remedial" measures which it has taken in response to the other sides' non-compliance.  

“Well, this is a very logical and reasonable position by Iran and everybody understands by reason that the U.S. has left the table. The U.S. has left the JCPOA and they have to come back first. They should lift their sanctions and become again a participant to the JCPOA, then, Iran would follow and go back to full compliance,” he said, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action by its initials. 

“This is actually a concept that almost everybody agreed on. We need to somehow identify how this is going to happen, but before we come to that point now we are working on the measures that both sides should take. Once we have done with this and once we know exactly what the U.S. should do and what Iran should do, then we have to work on the question of sequence of verification,” Araghchi added.

 “U.S. president has authority to terminate sanctions through executive orders”

Asked about the kind of sanctions relief, the Iranian deputy foreign minister said, “We know we have to go back to the same model in the JCPOA. They are sanctions that should be terminated and the U.S. president has the authority to terminate them. So, they should obviously be terminated through executive orders. “

“For the sanctions that are the result of Congress legislation, the (U.S.) president could only waive. This has been mentioned in the JCPOA. So, we want all those sanctions be reversed… Whatever imposed, re-imposed or re-labeled during the Trump administration and whatever is mentioned in the JCPOA should be lifted and they should reverse whatever has been done and I think the Americans know best how to do that.”

Iran’s top negotiator, however, said the discussion is going on.

“We are now in a position to have a better understanding of each other’s position. As I said we have a long way to go. We are not still in a position to say what measures should be taken exactly by both sides. But we are moving on that direction. Our demands are clear and we insist on that. Let’s see what happens in the next rounds,” Araghchi noted.

The latest meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission, a group comprised of Iran and the P4+1 responsible for overseeing the implementation of the deal, was held on Friday.

During the meeting, participants received a report from the two newly-established expert groups, which were put together on Wednesday to conduct technical talks over how to revive the JCPOA and what measures are needed to be done by Iran and the U.S. in this regard. One of the groups is tasked with specifying the sanctions that the U.S. should lift to revive the deal while the other is discussing how to reverse the nuclear measures taken by Iran in response to the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA.

Receiving a report about these groups’ technical talks was the most important agenda of the Friday meeting, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Friday shortly after the meeting was concluded.

Araghchi underlined during the meeting Iran’s willingness to continue “serious interactions” but said that hinges on witnessing “political will and seriousness” on part of the other sides. “Otherwise, there will be no reason to continue negotiations,” he warned.

Araghchi reiterated that the lifting of all U.S. sanctions imposed during the previous U.S. administration was a necessary step in reviving the JCPOA, and that only after verification of the lifting of these sanctions Iran would be ready to suspend its remedial measures and fully return to JCPOA.

At the end of the meeting, it was agreed that the next meeting of the Commission at the level of deputies and political directors to be held next Wednesday in Vienna. The Iranian Foreign Ministry said the Wednesday meeting will immediately be followed by technical and specialized intensive negotiations in the framework of expert groups to prepare a list of nuclear and sanctions measures that should be done by all parties to revive the JCPOA.

Araghchi also said Tehran will not reverse the reduction of its nuclear compliance before the U.S. removes all its sanctions and returns to the JCPOA, according to IRNA. 

“Until the United States removes all of its sanctions and returns to the JCPOA, none of Iran’s nuclear activities, especially in the field of enrichment, will be halted or even reduced,” he asserted. 

He pointed out, “Our 20% enrichment is now moving even faster than the speed envisaged by the Islamic Consultative Assembly (the Iranian Parliament) in its law, and 20% enriched materials are being produced now.”

He asserted that the process will continue until an agreement on the implementation of the JCPOA is reached, under which the U.S. should remove all of its sanctions.

“As it has been stressed many times, all of the sanctions must be removed in one step,” the top Iranian negotiator added.


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