Iran will not renegotiate JCPOA: spokesman

December 23, 2020 - 19:52

TEHRAN – Iran will not renegotiate a deal that had already been negotiated painstakingly, says Alireza Miryousefi, spokesman for Iran’s mission to the United Nations.

In a statement to Politico, the Iranian diplomat said that Iran “will not renegotiate an accord already agreed to after careful and detailed back-and-forth.”

The statement came amid renewed European efforts to bring Iran and the United States back to the negotiating table to revive a deal that U.S. President Donald Trump quit more than two years ago. However, the European signatories to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – France, Germany and the UK (E3) – saw an opportunity to revive the nuclear deal after Joe Biden won the U.S. election in November. During his election campaign, Biden had said that he would rejoin the deal if Iran returns to strict compliance with it.

In a September op-ed for CNN, Biden wrote, “I will offer Tehran a credible path back to diplomacy. If Iran returns to strict compliance with the nuclear deal, the United States would rejoin the agreement as a starting point for follow-on negotiations. With our allies, we will work to strengthen and extend the nuclear deal's provisions, while also addressing other issues of concern.”

After the election, Biden said he still stands by the views expressed in the op-ed, but he said that it would be “very difficult” and “hard” for him to rejoin the deal because other issues such as Iran’s missile program also need to be raised in the future talks with Iran. The Europeans also echoed the same view, saying that the U.S. return to the JCPOA will no longer be enough.

“A return to the previous agreement will not suffice anyway. There will have to be a kind of ‘nuclear agreement plus,’ which is also in our interest. We have clear expectations of Iran: no nuclear weapons, but also no ballistic missile program that threatens the entire region. Iran also needs to play a different role in the region,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Mass said in a recent interview with the German magazine, Der Spiegel.

But Iran has made it clear that it will not renegotiate the nuclear deal. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has recently said that the JCPOA is not renegotiable. The president also ruled out negotiations on Iran’s defensive missile program and its influence in the region, saying that the Americans had tried to add the missile issue to the JCPOA but Iran rejected the issue.

“The Americans were trying for months to add the missile issue (to the nuclear talks) and this was rejected. Trump was uninformed and did not know about the matter, but Mr. Biden is well aware of the details of the deal,” the Iranian president noted, adding, “I have not heard Biden say that we have to reach another agreement in order to return to the nuclear deal, that is what Trump says.”

But Iran expressed readiness to negotiate regional issues with neighbors and countries in the region, according to Miryousefi.

Ruling out renegotiations over the JCPOA, the spokesman said, “To contrast, Iran has also always publicly said that we are ready to negotiate regional issues, but only with neighbors and countries in the region.”

“Iran does not believe that there is any need for foreign powers’ presence at that dialogue, foreign powers who are literally thousands of miles away from the region. The sale of deadly weapons to countries in the region by these trans-regional powers has always been one of the most important causes of insecurity and problems in the region,” he continued.

There have been growing calls in some countries in the region for participating in the expected talks between Iran and major world powers. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Israel all have called on the incoming administration of the U.S. to include them in the talks.

On Monday, as the foreign ministers of Iran, China, France, Germany, the Russian Federation and the United Kingdom, as well as the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, held a virtual meeting to discuss the latest developments surrounding the Iran nuclear deal, the ambassador of the UAE, Bahrain and Israel took part in a “private, off-the-record” discussion with members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The envoys have used the moment to discuss their views on what to do about Iran and the nuclear deal, according to Politico.

The ambassadors’ meeting was held even though Iran has announced that it will not negotiate with major world powers over regional issues.

In a tweet on December 8, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said, “Dear neighbors, why ask US/E3 for inclusion in talks with Iran when: a) There won't be ANY talks about OUR region with them as they're the problem themselves. b) We can speak directly about our region without outside meddling. Hormuz Peace Endeavor (HOPE) is still on the table.”