U.S. must lift all post-JCPOA sanctions before returning to deal, top Iranian negotiator says

April 28, 2021 - 21:20

TEHRAN – Iran’s top nuclear negotiator underlined the need for the U.S. to lift all the sanctions imposed after the signing of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, saying the U.S. must do so before returning to the nuclear deal. 

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araghchi made the remarks on Tuesday following another round of talks between representatives of Iran and other signatories to the deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in the Austrian capital of Vienna. 

He told Press TV that all the sanctions imposed on Iran during the terms of ex-president Barack Obama and his successor, Donald Trump, following the implementation of the JCPOA in early 2016 must be terminated before the United States can return to the agreement.

Araghchi said Tehran’s position with regard to the landmark deal has not changed and will not, either, stressing that, “The United States must first lift all sanctions, and Iran will return to its obligations only after verifying the lifting of US sanctions.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Araghchi said before starting the third round of Joint Commission in Vienna, the Iranian delegation had held a number of bilateral and trilateral meetings with other parties as well as with representatives of Russia and China to coordinate their positions on the revival of the JCPOA.

“We have common positions with Russia and China on many Issues, almost on all issues, and there is a good understanding between the three delegations and we have very close cooperation,” the top Iranian negotiator told Press TV.

“We can see enough seriousness in all delegations,” he added. “Everybody is serious enough to work hard in order to come to a conclusion.”

Araghchi also said the delegations at the meeting had decided to intensify the work of two previous working groups on sanctions lifting and also agreed on forming a third group called “Practical Arrangements” which is to start work on Wednesday and its purpose is “to find ideas and solutions for the question of verification, the implementation day and the timetable for implementing the commitments and measures by all parties.”

“We have made some good progress,” the senior Iranian diplomat underlined. “We are on the right track but still we have lots of challenges ahead of us, important challenges that we have to address and we have to deal.”

On Tuesday, Negotiators from Iran and the P4+1 group of countries wrapped up the first round of the JCPOA Joint Commission's fresh talks in Vienna, according to the Iranian Foreign Ministry.

In the plenary meeting, the participants decided to speed up the process of negotiations, and agreed that the activities of expert groups continue in a fast and intensive way in the two domains of “removal of sanctions” and “nuclear issues.”
It was also decided that a third expert group, namely the “Expert Group on Practical Arrangements”, be formed with the aim of holding talks on the practical arrangements required for the removal of sanctions and then the US return to the JCPOA.

The Tuesday meeting was chaired, on behalf of EU High Representative Josep Borrell, by the Deputy Secretary General and Political Director of the European External Action Service, Enrique Mora.

Speaking after the latest round of talks in Vienna last week, Araghchi said the discussions are “progressive” despite “the existing difficulties” facing the diplomatic process aimed at reviving the nuclear agreement.

Araghchi also pointed to the issue of avoiding protraction of talks and reiterated Iran’s position on abandoning the negotiations if the parties lacked enough seriousness.

“We monitor very closely the behavior of other parties. We would certainly not go for time-consuming negotiations with no result. As soon as we see that the other side is not serious and tries to waste the time for other purposes, we will certainly stop negotiations,” he noted.

In response to Press TV's question about banking sanctions and whether Iran would be allowed to have banking relations with the US dollar, the head of the Iranian negotiating team said we should leave the investigation of this issue to the experts, adding that "conversion of different currencies" was currently under discussion.

During the Tuesday meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission, the negotiators agreed that expert groups would continue their work in two areas of lifting the US sanctions against Iran and the nuclear-related measures required to be taken by Tehran in an “intensive and fast” way.

It was also decided to set up a third expert group to examine practical arrangements needed to implement the process of sanctions removal and then the return of the United States to the JCPOA.

According to Araghchi, the two working groups would start drafting solutions to the dispute, including coming up with the lists of a list of measures that need to be taken by Iran and the sanctions that have to be removed by the US.

He added that the third working group should still focus its efforts on macro issues, including Iran’s verification of the US sanctions removal.

“We are on the right path but there are still challenges and difficult details. It is necessary for us to be able to agree on every word and phrase of them,” said Araqchi, who is the Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs.
He added that the working groups will start their work today, and that the JCPOA Joint Commission would convene when it is necessary to examine the performance of the working groups or settle possible problems.

“We have still bigger difficult challenges on which we did not reach a solution and all the delegations are trying to find a solution to these challenges,” he said.

Following the end of the new round of the Vienna talks, Mikhail Ulyanov, the Russian ambassador to international organizations in Vienna, said in a post on his Twitter account that the participants have consensus on the full restoration of the JCPOA in its original form and decided to expedite the process.

“The new round of the Vienna talks started with official meeting of Joint Commission of JCPOA. The discussions proved that participants are guided by the unity of purpose which is full restoration of the nuclear deal in its original form. It was decided to expedite the process,” Ulyanov said on Twitter. 

Mora also wrote on Twitter that the participants in the JCPOA Joint Commission aim to “advance on our objectives: US rejoining the JCPOA and full implementation of the deal.”

Also on Tuesday, Araghchi held a trilateral meeting with the Russian and Chinese envoys to the talks. The meeting was held hours before another meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission, indicating the importance Iran attaches to consultations with the Russians and the Chinese.

Ulyanov, who represented Russia in the trilateral meeting, described it as “very fruitful.”

“We compared notes and exchanged views on the way ahead towards full restoration of the nuclear deal. It was a very fruitful meeting,” he tweeted on Tuesday.

On the other hand, Araghchi underlined the shared views of Iran, Russia, and China on the nuclear talks.  

“The heads of delegations of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Russia, and China stressed the common ground of the three delegations and the need for continued consultation and serious coordination between the three countries in these negotiations,” the Iranian nuclear negotiator said in a statement after the trilateral meeting.

The latest round of Vienna nuclear talks was held on Tuesday after negotiating teams briefed high-level officials at home on the outcome of their talks. Earlier on Sunday, Araghchi attended a meeting of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee. 

Speaking on the sidelines of the Committee session, Araghchi offered a glimpse into the outcome of the talks, saying that, during these talks, U.S. sanctions on Iran were divided into two categories, one imposed on economic entities and activities while the other imposed on Iranian individuals.

“There is a better understanding as to the [lifting of] economic sanctions,” Araghchi noted. But sanctions on individuals, estimated to be more than 1,500 cases, are yet to be resolved, the top negotiator said, adding that they will be negotiated in the next round of talks, which are being held within the framework of the JCPOA Joint Commission, with the three European signatories to the JCPOA -France, Germany and the UK (E3)- acting as intermediaries between the Iranian and American diplomats who are present in Vienna in separate hotels.