Iran says ‘will not negotiate forever’ 

June 27, 2021 - 20:18

TEHRAN – In what appeared to be a response to remarks by U.S. diplomats threatening to halt negotiations in Vienna if Iran failed to give concessions, Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said late on Saturday that “Iran will not negotiate forever.”

Khatibzadeh said Iran remains committed to saving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) - the official name for the 2015 nuclear deal - which was ditched by the former U.S. administration in May 2018 and it has been the most active party in the Vienna nuclear talks aimed at salvaging the tattered deal. 

“Out of a steadfast commitment to salvage a deal that the US tried to torpedo, Iran has been the most active party in Vienna, proposing most drafts. Still believe a deal is possible, if the US decides to abandon Trump's failed legacy. Iran will not negotiate forever,” Khatibzadeh said on Twitter.

The spokesman’s tweet seems to be a response to recent remarks by the top U.S. nuclear negotiator in Vienna and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken who both, in a thinly-veiled threat, warned of the Vienna talks possibly hitting a deadlock if Iran continued to insist on its positions.
“What they've asked for - in principle, they've said they want all of the sanctions that President Trump's administration reimposed or imposed since 2018 to be lifted. And that's a lot. And we've said we're prepared to remove those that we think we need to remove to be back in compliance with the JCPOA. But we're not going to lift all of the sanctions that the Trump administration imposed,” U.S. envoy to the Vienna talks Rob Malley told NPR.

Malley appeared to go so far as to threaten to walk out of the Vienna talks if they ceased to make progress. “We wouldn't be going back to Vienna if we thought that it's not possible to reach a deal. I don't think that this window is going to be open forever. At some point, we'll have to conclude that this is not succeeding. But we're not there yet,” he said.

In an echo of Malley’s warning, Blinken also warned that the U.S. could eventually decide not to rejoin the agreement if negotiations in Vienna continue without progress. 

“There will come a point, yes, where it will be very hard to return back to the standards set by the JCPOA,” the chief U.S. diplomat said at a briefing in Paris after meeting with French Foreign Minister Jean Yves Le Drian. He also called on Iran to make “difficult” decisions to advance talks that could revive the JCPOA.

Le Drian reiterated the same call. “It’s been six weeks since the negotiations started again. Some progress was achieved, and we will now be entering the most difficult times. It will require some strong and courageous decisions on behalf of the new Iranian authorities, but now is the time,” he said.

On Friday, Khatibzadeh reacted to Blinken’s and Le Drian’s remarks in which they had said they were waiting for Tehran to rejoin the JCPOA. 

“Iran has never left the JCPOA, so there is no point saying it should return to the deal,” said Khatibzadeh, according to a statement issued by the Iranian Foreign Ministry.

“Rather, it is the United States that should make up its mind and return to the JCPOA by lifting its illegal sanctions and effectively fulfilling its commitments,” said the spokesman.

“The Americans and Europeans know better than anyone else that Iran decided to remain in the JCPOA and keep it alive despite the fact that, and at a time when the U.S. unilaterally withdrew from the agreement and imposed illegal and cruel sanctions on Iranian people and despite the Europeans’ inaction,” he added.

“During the negotiations in Vienna, it was announced time and again that it is the U.S. that has disrupted the balance of the JCPOA and has practically impeded the implementation of the JCPOA through its full non-compliance,” said Khatibzadeh.

“Moreover, it was stressed that the Islamic Republic of Iran is fully prepared to stop its remedial measures (i.e., the scaling down of its obligations under the JCPOA) and resume the implementation of its commitments under the JCPOA provided the U.S. fully implements the agreement, and that the other parties are fully aware of Iran’s position,” he noted.

“It is clear that if the U.S. makes up its mind, becomes ready to fully deliver on its commitments and stop using sanctions as a bargaining chip, it will be possible to reach a deal,” the spokesman said.

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