Khatibzadeh: Washington’s return to JCPOA dependent on U.S. itself

May 7, 2021 - 21:28

TEHRAN— In an interview with MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Friday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh stated that progress has been made in the talks, though not sufficient, but good enough to start drafting an understanding between all sides.

“We are not moving fast, as there are differences over a few issues,” he said.

The diplomat noted that the Vienna negotiations is not a place for bargaining and “give and take.”

“All the give and take and bargaining was concluded in July 2015,” he reminded the United States.

Khatibzadeh explained that Iran and P4+1 are in Vienna to discuss how the U.S can get back to full compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and to materialize “compliance for compliance plan.”

He noted that it is too soon to make any judgments. 

“I think the return of the United States to the JCPOA depends on the U.S itself,” the spokesman remarked. 

He added that it’s high time for Joe Biden to make a political decision, whether to instruct its administration to stick to the failed Donald Trump policy, or distance from that. 

Responding to a question about what is at stake if all sides fail to reach an agreement, the spokesman said that now it’s the time to focus on reviving the JCPOA. 

He noted that it is too soon to jump to conclusions, thinking that the deal might fail or not. 

“I think there is an ample hope that we can revive the deal.” The diplomat remarked. 

Elaborating on that, he said that there are good grounds for that Iran is trying to materialize all the potentials it witnesses in the deal. 

In response to a question about shuttling between diplomats in Vienna and whether direct negotiations with the United States would make the procedure less complicated, the spokesman said that what is happening in Vienna is the seasonal Joint Commission of the JCPOA meeting and it is not a meeting between Iran and the United States. 

“Iran, P4+1, plus European Union as the coordinator of the deal are focusing on how a party which left the deal, which seized its participation can get back to full compliance and possibly can return to the deal,” Khatibzadeh elaborated. 

Foreign Ministry spokesman Khatibzadeh says it’s high time for Joe Biden to make a political decision, whether to instruct its administration to stick to the failed Donald Trump policy, or distance from that.

He noted that the EU and P4+1 have decided to coordinate and communicate with the U.S., and Iran has decided not to, as Donald Trump left the JCPOA without negotiating with Iran or its allies. 

“When they (the Trump administration) put illegal sanctions on Iran, they did not communicate with us. We think there is no need for direct or indirect talks,” the diplomat remarked.

Responding to a question about the possibility of direct Iran-U.S. talks if the United States return to the nuclear deal, he said, “Then, there would be (the) JCPOA table, and (the) United States can sit at the table.”

Responding to a question about Iran’s position on sanctions relief, the spokesman noted that Iran’s position is based on legal and logical grounds. 
“(The) United States was the party that left the deal, seized its participation, imposed crippling sanctions on Iran and Iranian economy and also tried to demolish the deal and punishing those who were abided by the deal. They broke the deal, they have to fix it,” Khatibzadeh noted, stating that everyone understands this logic. 

“Anything than a wholesale, single step, verifiable removal of all sanctions is not acceptable by Tehran, and would make it impossible for the United States to return to the deal,” the spokesman noted. 

He noted that the hollow labels Trump put on sanctions was to demolish the deal and would make it impossible for any administration that wants to get back to the deal. 
“(The sanctions) were aimed to hurt Iran’s economy, were aimed to sabotage Iran’s external trade with others, and were aimed to securitize Iran in international politics,” he remarked. 

Recounting Trump era sanctions, the spokesman noted that there is no distinction between different sanctions Trump imposed on Iran.

“This is why Iran has always insisted that all sanctions imposed, re-imposed or re-labeled should be removed,” he stated.

The diplomat reminded that the JCPOA bans the EU and the U.S. to re-impose the sanctions by re-labeling them. 

He also stressed that “everything should get back to the implementation day.”

Khatibzadeh stated that Trump deliberately tried to completely kill the nuclear deal.

“Iran was not able to get benefit out of the nuclear deal. We think it’s important for Washington to understand that they have to verifiably get back to full compliance, upon which Iran is ready to stop all the remedial measures taken in response to the blind violation of the deal by the United States,” he said. 

In response to a question about Sen. Menendez asking for a JCPOA+, Khatibzadeh said that the JCPOA, by design and intentionally was limited to the nuclear issue. 

“It’s significant for those in Washington to understand that if Trump couldn’t achieve anything under the illusion of a better deal, no one can also get anything by relabeling those illusion of a stronger, broader, and longer set of understanding or agreement,” the spokesman remarked.

He also stated that the “Maximum Pressure” campaign resulted in “maximum failure” and this is the lesson Washington should learn. 

“Iran will never negotiate its national security with anybody,” the diplomat stated. 

He then reminded about allies of Washington’s destructive behavior, exemplifying the occupying regime of Israel as a regime that possess hundreds of nuclear warheads, a regime that is not a member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and a regime that is responsible for the assassination, kidnapping and humiliation of Palestinians, the carte blanche it has given o Saudi Arabia to start such atrocity in Yemen, and hundreds of billions of military equipment sold in the Persian Gulf region, along with a long list of interventionism in the region. 

Khatibzadeh also stated that Iran is following a different path than the U.S., referring to the indigenous Hormuz Peace Endeavor (HOPE).

“Washington should abandon this mindset that it can exclude Iran and make Iran an exception in international relation and international law. If they start to change the mindset,

I do believe that we do have a better situation in our region and the world,” Khatibzadeh noted. 

He stressed that Iran is not going to negotiate its means of defense. 

The diplomat stressed, “We are not to negotiate or compromise our national security.”

He stated that the U.S. is thousands of kilometers away from the region and it has no justification to talk about the situation in the region. 

“If there were no aggression toward Afghanistan and toward Iraq, if there were no aggression in different parts of our region, then there would be no war as a norm in our region,” the spokesman noted.

Responding to a question about Sen. Menendez’s proposal to have a broader agreement rather than the JCPOA, Khatibzadeh said that Washington has shown that it is capable of violating even treaties, as experienced under Trump administration. 

He noted that legally speaking, the JCPOA is a binding agreement, as it was incorporated by the United Nations Security Council Resolution (2231).

The diplomat reminded that the U.S. violated treaties that were ratified by Congress, saying that Iran does not care for the United States domestic politics.

In response to a question about whether Iran is seeking another agreement with the United States, the spokesman stated that the JCPOA is “concluded, signed and sealed.”

Responding to a question about the possibility of Republicans coming to power in 2024 and repeating Trump’s actions, the diplomat said what happened in 2017 may happen in the future, but Iran would also react. 

He noted that after the violation of the deal, Iran decided to exercise one year of “strategic patience” due to the request of other parties in the deal. 

He added that Iran decided to reduce its commitments only after the Europeans signatory to the 2015 nuclear deal failed to keep up with their commitments.

“If the United Nations Security Council Resolution is not a guarantee for the United States, nothing can be a guarantee for the United States. The only thing is that Iran can also reverse everything, could reverse then, and will reverse in the future as well,” the spokesman remarked.

‘Israel assassinated many Iranian nuclear scientists’

Responding to a question about the sabotage at Natanz, Khatibzadeh said the identity of the occupying regime indicates that they are responsible for many sabotages in the region, including the assassinations of nuclear scientists in Iran.

“They sabotaged (the) Natanz facility which could result in a catastrophe because it was a blind act of terrorism in Iranian soil,” Khatibzadeh said.

He stated that Iran has always reserved the right to respond in full defense against its national security. 

In response to a question about Iran’s possible response to Israel, he said that Iran always reserve its right to defend. 

‘Iran’s relations with China, Russia and neighbors are genuine, sincere and authentic’

Responding to a question that Iran is focusing on the East, and whether this outlook would continue after the revival of the JCPOA, Khatibzadeh stated that Iran’s relations with China, Russia, and its neighbors have always been genuine, sincere and authentic. 

He noted that Iran announced the strategic partnership with China when Obama was in office, thus, it had no relation with Iran-U.S. relation, and rather, it shows cordial relations between Iran-China, and Iran and other countries. 

He noted that China, Russia and some other countries stood by Iran during the hardest time under Trump’s reign of power, when Europeans were incapable of fulfilling their commitments and froze Iran’s resources and did not allow Iran to use its resources to import “badly needed anti-COVID medicine and vaccine.”

“What happens between Iran and the world reflects the realities on the ground,” the spokesman noted.

The diplomat noted that Iran is seeking to diversify its economic relations and make a new balance in its external economic relations. 

“(The) JCPOA was actually designed to help this,” Khatibzadeh remarked.

He noted that there will be no change in Tehran-Beijing and Tehran-Moscow relationship even if Iran and P4+1 can reach an understanding and get the U.S. back to full JCPOA compliance. 

He stressed that neighbors are a top priority. 

The diplomat also noted that the resilient economy of Iran will make it less vulnerable to anybody. 

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