Foreign Ministry: ‘We will return to Vienna tomorrow if U.S. takes political decision today’

March 14, 2022 - 22:15

TEHRAN — Speaking in his last press briefing in the current Iranian new year which ends on March 20, Foreign Ministry spokesman on Monday discussed the latest developments in Vienna at length, saying that the United States is solely responsible for the current status of the Vienna talks.

Saeed Khatibzadeh said if the U.S. takes the political decision on revitalizing the 2015 nuclear deal, the delegate will return to Vienna soon. 

“What has been happening in Vienna today with the return of the delegations to the capitals is a short break. Some mentioned the stalemate and the end of the negotiations, which is not true. This break was made at the request of the coordinator of the Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA),” Saeed Khatibzadeh said.

He continued by saying that the delegations are in the capitals for further consultations, and receiving a diplomatic answer from Washington. 

“Reducing what is happening in Vienna to one or two elements does not clarify the situation. We are not at the point of announcing an agreement right now, because some key issues remain to be decided in Washington, and as soon as the decisions are made in Washington, we will be at the point of returning to Vienna and the final round and reaching a good and lasting agreement. We are not there now and we are waiting to hear the American answer. Consultations continue in Vienna at various levels,” he added.

The spokesman added that the Iranian foreign minister and other foreign ministers whose countries are signatory to the JCPOA are in constant contact with each other, as well as the senior negotiators.

He then informed the press that Amir Abdollahian was leaving for Moscow on Monday night.

“We reiterate to the press and the dear nation that what is a beacon and framework for us in this direction is the definite interests of the Iranian people, and it is these definite interests that determine the framework of negotiations and the final agreement,” he asserted.

Responding to a question about Russia’s demand for guarantees from the United States, Khatibzadeh said that Russia is not a third party to the JCPOA. 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a news conference in Moscow on March 5 that his country has demanded written guarantees from Washington at least at the secretary of state level the sanctions situation will not harm its cooperation with Tehran.  

The comments by Lavrov followed after the West imposed sanctions on Russia for invading Ukraine. Russia doesn’t want the sanctions to affect its economic and military cooperation with Iran once the JCPOA is revived.

"We need guarantees these sanctions will in no way affect the trading, economic and investment relations contained in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action for the Iranian nuclear program. We have asked the American counterparts, who rule the roost here, to provide us with guarantees at least at the level of the secretary of state the current process launched by the United States will by no means affect our right to free and full-fledged trading, economic, investment, military and technical cooperation with Iran," TASS quoted Lavrov as saying.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman stressed, “We do not have a third party in the JCPOA. Let us not forget what happened in Vienna to ensure a credible U.S. return to the JCPOA and its commitments under this internationally agreed agreement.” 

Khatibzadeh pointed out that what was the subject of negotiations was the commitments of the United States. 

He noted, “What happened in the first months of the Biden administration into these negotiations was that when Biden was able to reverse everything the previous president had done with just an executive order, he chose the path and failed legacy of Donald Trump.”

The Biden government has played a trick in the Vienna talks every day, he added. 

Khatibzadeh continued by stating that today Vienna is “a mirror of yesterday's unconstructive behavior” of the United States. 

“We were not at the point of agreement. If we reach an agreement, we will announce it to the people of Iran loud and clear. The remaining issues between us and the United States require political decisions in Washington that have not yet been answered to us, and we will return to Vienna when they respond,” he noted. 

When asked about a Wall Street Journal report about the Vienna talks and a week-long deadline issued by the U.S. to the Russians to reconsider their demands, the spokesman said that the WSJ narrative is the American narrative against Russia, which is in conflict with it over the Ukraine war. 

“I have spoken frankly and I have said in my statements, and all of them have been consistent, that the interests of the nation determine our path. It is the will of the United States to reduce what is happening in Vienna to a Russian request. The responsibility for the current situation we are in now lies with the United States. If the United States responds today, we can return to Vienna. Russia's request must be discussed in the JCPOA Joint Commission. Russia's approach has been constructive to date and has been the closest and most supportive among negotiators in Vienna over the past 11 months. Russian officials have stated in private talks and in the Joint Commission that they will not obstruct any good agreement. Do not let other narratives portray this situation differently,” Khatibzadeh stated. 

He continued by saying that the Vienna talks is at the last steps, and the last steps are the most difficult ones. 

“All issues are now in the American basket, and if they give the right answer today and make a political decision, the delegations can return to Vienna tomorrow,” the diplomat stressed. 

He then reiterated that the United States is not a member of the JCPOA to talk about its members, saying that the U.S. has made some eccentric requests to the Joint Commission in the past 11 months. 

“The deal, which is being finalized in Vienna, is an agreement that would take several months for the United States to return to the JCPOA. There will be no change in the original text of the 2015 nuclear deal and its annexes or the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231. Of course, the dimensions, conditions, appendices and stages of the return of the United States are written in this text,” he elaborated. 

Khatibzadeh added that the date of the return of the delegations to Vienna will be announced by JCPOA coordinators, Josep Borrell and his deputy Enrique Mora. 

“We are ready to return to Vienna today, but we are waiting for the U.S. to respond to the (remaining) issues. My impression is that the break will not be for long,” he concluded. 

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