Ex-diplomat: Interim agreement could be a hoax or an opportunity

November 22, 2021 - 21:34

TEHRAN — A former diplomat has said that until the details of a draft interim agreement for restoring the 2015 nuclear deal are not clarified, it will not be possible to make a correct judgment about it.

In an interview with IRNA published on Monday, Hamid Reza Asefi described the Ebrahim Raisi administration's approach to the nuclear talks as logical and wise.

"The administration seeks to neutralize sanctions through internal mechanisms,” Asefi remarked. 

Accordingly, he said, the country's resilience must be increased to make sanctions “practically ineffective."

Stating that the realization of this goal is time-consuming and does not happen overnight, the former Foreign Ministry spokesman said in efforts to increase the country's economic power necessary mechanisms should be devised. 

For example, he suggested, production capacity must be increased and relations with neighbors and other countries be strengthened. 

Asefi recalled the experiences of Iran in the past four decades, especially since the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was signed, saying, “The accumulated experience of the Islamic Republic in the field of foreign policy and diplomacy proves the logical approach of the current administration on the importance of neutralizing sanctions at home and not making the country's economy dependent on the outside.”

The former Iranian ambassador to France went on to say that the Raisi administration announced from the beginning that it respected the commitment of the previous administration and it will implement it, and here the difference between the administrations of Iran and the United States becomes clear.

“This administration adhered to the commitments of previous administrations, but the U.S. presidents did not adhere to the commitments of previous administrations.”

President Donald Trump quit the JCPOA – commonly called the 2015 nuclear deal – that was inked by his predecessor President Barack Obama. Trump did this despite the fact that the UN Security Council adopted a resolution endorsing the agreement.

“The Islamic Republic has come a good way so far, and time is in our favor.”

Asefi saw the past few months as an opportunity for the country's new diplomacy and foreign policy team to review past developments.

He said the Vienna talks should be seen what steps the Americans are taking. “The Americans are moving in a multi-layered way, meaning that while emphasizing that they want to return to the JCPOA to fulfill their obligations, they are also imposing new sanctions.”

Until June, six rounds of talks were held between Iran and the remaining parties to the JCPOA to put the agreement on the right track. The talks, which started in April, started after the Biden administration said it is ready to rejoin the JCPOA.

IAEA actions one of layers of U.S. anti-Iran scenarios

The ex-diplomat said it a sign of “dishonesty” by the Americans that they impose sanctions while emphasize the need for negotiation to revitalize the nuclear pact.

“This approach will cause the new Iranian negotiating team to take a more cautious approach to U.S. promises and strengthen pessimism on the Iranian side.”

Asefi, who also served as Iran’s ambassador to the UAE and Germany, stated that Europe did not stay “in” the JCPOA from the beginning. Rather, he said, it stayed on the “sideline” of the JCPOA.

“Europe did not leave the JCPOA, but it did not fulfill its obligations to Iran. Maybe Europe was waiting for the American green light. In any case, the approach of the Europeans indicated that they were following the United States, and this makes Iran cautious about accepting the promises of the Europeans.”

Asefi assessed the U.S. emphasis on negotiation with Iran along with talks with some countries in the region and activating the IAEA as different layers of the U.S. scenario toward Iran's peaceful nuclear program.

The U.S. uses the IAEA as a leverage against Iran and the new efforts of the Agency in the face of Iran’s nuclear peaceful activities are in line with this policy.

IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi was scheduled to arrive in Tehran on Monday night for talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian and chief of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization Mohammad Eslami.

Grossi has been launching a propaganda campaign against Iran by saying that Tehran has limited access by IAEA inspectors to Iran’s nuclear sites. However, Iran is cooperating with the IAEA based on the nuclear safeguards Agreement.

The IAEA has also refused to condemn sabotage acts against Iran’s nuclear sites. According to international law, any efforts against nuclear sites is crime against humanity.

“The Americans are desperate and have lost everything in diplomacy.”
U.S. using nuclear issue as a platform for other purposes 

Asefi also says the U.S. is seeking other goals against Iran through nuclear negotiations.

“Iran's nuclear activities are not the only issue for the U.S.," he said. "As U.S. officials have repeatedly acknowledged, they use the nuclear issue as a platform for other issues, and their ultimate goal is to limit Iran's defense and missile capabilities while reducing the Islamic Republic's authority in the region.”

Asefi referred to the news surrounding an interim agreement in some U.S. media outlets, indicating that the issue of interim agreement has been raised to release a sum of Iran's frozen assets in exchange for halting some of Iran’s nuclear activities. 

The details of such an agreement need to be clarified so that it can be evaluated, he commented, adding an interim agreement “can be both helpful and deceptive”.

The former diplomat noted that until the details of such a plan released by the American media outlets under the title of “interim agreement” are not clarified, a correct judgment cannot be made about it. 

“This plan can be both an opportunity to make a decision in a clear atmosphere or it can be a media trap.” 

The Americans have not yet officially announced anything, and the Iranian negotiating team would make the necessary decision after receiving the details.

The former foreign ministry spokesman stated that time is not in the favor of the United States.

“Time is in the favor of Iran and the anti-Iran actions of the United States have not achieved results. Now, the Islamic Republic has not only made good progress in the nuclear field, it has also become stronger in the region, and its defense capabilities are greater than ever. Washington has failed in all areas of showdown with Tehran, and the White House's request to negotiate with the Islamic Republic is due to its frustration.”

He said an agreement that would serve the national interests of Iran will be considered as a good agreement and that a good agreement is desirable whenever it is reached. 

The retired diplomat also said Iran will not give in to attritional negotiations and at the same time it is in no hurry to conclude negotiations.

“Iran's new nuclear negotiating team has clarified one issue for the American and European sides, and that is that we are not willing to reach agreement at any cost. For the current administration, agreement is not the goal but the realization of national interests.”
The expert on international diplomacy added if Iran's national interests were ensured in the negotiations, an agreement could be reached, otherwise this situation will continue. 

In that situation, he said, Iran should be in close contact with the Chinese and the Russians and talk to them.

The ex-diplomat went on to say, “It remains to be seen on November 29 whether the Americans will enter into negotiations honestly or whether they want to pursue their own policies by using sticks and carrots and threatening and encouraging. The Islamic Republic has come a good way so far, and time is in our favor, and the Americans are desperate and have lost everything in diplomacy, and the success of the negotiations depends on their honesty or dishonesty.”

U.S.-E3 statement was based on ‘baseless extravagance’

Asefi also called the recent anti-Iran statement by the U.S., the European troika (known as E3)  and some Arab countries "baseless extravagance".

He noted, “U.S. intervention is the cause of the region's problems and the country is not in a position to talk about our region's issues. Washington has always been a cause of divergence in the region, because if friendship is established between the countries of the region, it will no longer have a pretext to be present in the region and sell weapons worth billions of dollars.”

The former Foreign Ministry spokesman recalled the history of Iran's negotiations with the Persian Gulf states over the past four decades since the Islamic Revolution.

“The regional security dialogue plan and the Hormuz peace plan were among the plans that Tehran used to improve relations with the countries of the Persian Gulf. From the beginning of the revolution until now, we have pursued these regional security arrangements in various administrations, but unfortunately, some countries in the region, which see the continuation of their rule in foreign support, have followed the policies of the White House.”

Asefi also reacted to the remarks of the Secretary-General of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council seeking to participate in the nuclear talks between Iran and the P4+1 (four permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany).

“40 years ago, we proposed the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council regional cooperation and regional arrangements and insisted on it. We still insist. Countries in the region can talk to each other, but these talks have nothing to do with the United States. The nuclear issue is also between Iran and the P4+1 and should not be confused with regional issues.”

Iran will not sign agreement under pressure

Asefi highlighted that negotiation should be concluded when Iran's interests were ensured, and if it was reached sooner, it was better, and if it was not reached, Iran should wait until it was reached.

“It is not possible for Iran to sign something that does not serve its interests under pressure. Perhaps the problem with the previous administration is that we rushed to sign the deal.”

Regarding the movements of the Zionist regime, the former diplomat said, “Israel is seeking chaos and can only survive in the light of chaos and sedition. Israel has realized that Iran's regional authority is growing exponentially and is doing everything it can to create a rift between Iran and the countries in the region.”

Iran should not be worried about Israel's movements because Israel's anti-Iran provocations have a forty-year history and will not reach anywhere, and this regime can only maintain its existence for a limited time, the former diplomat concluded.

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