Interim agreement in Vienna under consideration: senior MP

January 12, 2022 - 21:36

TEHRAN – A senior Iranian lawmaker has said Iran doesn’t view the interim agreement proposed by the other side favorably, but such a proposal has been under consideration and is yet to be accepted or rejected. 

In an interview with Iran’s state news agency, IRNA, Vahid Jalalzadeh, the chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, said the interim agreement has been proposed by the P4+1 group of countries – France, China, Russia, Britain plus Germany. 

The lawmaker said the instructions given to the Iranian negotiating team in Vienna prioritize a permanent deal that would best serve the interests of the Islamic Republic. 

The P4+1 proposals for interim agreement are not ideal for us, but they are under consideration and have not been accepted or rejected, Jalalzadeh said. 

The Islamic Republic has experienced a unilateral withdrawal from the agreement without being paid political or economic damages, he said, adding that any agreement requires a building of trust to secure the interests of the Islamic Republic.

Emphasizing that any agreement requires the fulfillment of obligations, he said, “The West, by not adhering to the obligations of the previous agreement, has caused a distrust that it must take effective steps to restore it.”

Underlining that this round of negotiations is to punish the United States for trying to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), he said, “The United States is practically behind the doors of the P4+1 talks; if this period of negotiations is in line with the interests of the Islamic Republic, we can think about their entry into the negotiations.”

The lawmaker said he was not upbeat about the U.S. return to the negotiations. “Last year, for the first time, the country's resolutions did not pass in the Security Council, which was a major setback for them; Our past experience of U.S. government stonewalling leads us to believe that when they return to the JCPOA, they will try to use these JCPOA privileges to impose restrictions,” he noted. 

Jalalzadeh said that the return of the United States is not considered during the interim agreement, adding that the Western parties are aware of Iran's capabilities and are concerned about the prolongation or failure of the talks, that’s why they proposed the interim agreement as a prelude to the permanent one.  

The chairman of the parliamentary committee also said that the interim agreement will not contravene a strategic nuclear law passed last year by the Parliament that requires the government to accelerate nuclear activities in case the West failed to secure Iran’s interests in terms of lifting U.S. sanctions. 

“Although our priority and goal are to reach a permanent agreement, we must acknowledge that the interim agreement does not harm the Parliament's Strategic Action Act. The interim agreement is in the form of a proposal that is neither rejected nor approved.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian has recently said the talks in Vienna are moving in the right direction.

“Talks in Vienna are proceeding in the right direction. Iran’s initiatives brought the talks back on track in a constructive atmosphere,” he said on Twitter. He also called on the West to show good faith. “It is now up to the Western side to show good faith and commitment for a good deal,” Amir Abdollahian noted.

The assessment of the Iranian foreign minister on the status of talks came amid a remarkable media silence on the talks. The current round resumed in the early days of the new year after a short break due to the end-of-year holidays. Unlike the previous rounds, the negotiators have been getting down to brass tacks ever since they returned to the Austrian capital amid warning from the Western side that time is running out for a deal. Iran has said that it also wants a deal as soon as possible but it prioritizes substance over pace.

Due to Iran constructively engaging in the talks, progress is being reported by almost all concerned parties. Currently, the negotiators are focusing on four major points: Iran’s nuclear activities, U.S. sanctions, verification, and guarantees. The progress in question has largely been made in the nuclear sphere, according to press reports.

Representatives from China, France, Germany, Russia, Britain and Iran are negotiating in Vienna to bring back the JCPOA back to life. The United States is involved in the talks indirectly. It is the eighth round of talks in Vienna, the Austrian capital, which started in April. Six rounds were held during the administration of Hassan Rouhani and two rounds in the new Ebrahim Raisi administration.

The Joe Biden administration imposed fresh sanctions on two Iranian government agencies and several officials on December 7 during the previous round of talks. In late December, Russian representative to the Vienna talks Mikhail Ulyanov urged patience and said now is not the time to put pressure on Iran. 

Ulyanov said in an interview with Foreign Policy that now is not the time to threaten Iran with greater pressure. He added, “Even if they produce a significant amount of nuclear material, so what. It cannot be used without a warhead, and the Iranians do not have warheads.”

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