Iranian FM :Amir Abdollahian Guarantees key, basic issues in Vienna talks

Iran calls for US political statement on commitment to JCPOA

Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said that Iran has proposed to Western parties that at least their parliaments including the US Congress, can declare in the form of a political statement their commitment to the deal.

Iran has proposed that the US Congress makes a “political statement” of its commitment to a nuclear accord with Tehran as talks in Vienna to revive the deal reaches a critical juncture.

In an exclusive interview with the Financial Times, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said Washington had failed to address Iran’s demand for guarantees that no party is able to abandon the deal, as the US did under former President Donald Trump in 2018. Tehran also wants all sanctions imposed by Trump to be lifted.

“As a matter of principle, public opinion in Iran cannot accept as a guarantee the words of a head of state, let alone the United States, due to the withdrawal of Americans from the JCPOA,” Amir-Abdollahian said.

The Iranian foreign minister said he had told Iran’s negotiators to propose to Western parties that “at least their parliaments or parliament speakers, including the US Congress, can declare in the form of a political statement their commitment to the agreement and return to the JCPOA implementation”.

“Iran’s commitments are as clear as a mathematical formula. It is absolutely clear what we are supposed to do and how these measures will be verified through the IAEA [the UN nuclear watchdog]. Therefore the other side can have no concern; But we remain concerned primarily about the guarantees [that the US would not withdraw],” Amir-Abdollahian said.

Expressing Tehran’s frustrations with Washington’s position as weeks of talks in Vienna appear at risk of stalling, the Iranian foreign minister said, “We are facing problems during this period because the other party lacks a serious initiative.”

Amir-Abdollahian said that Iran wanted the negotiations to lead to the “total lifting” of sanctions. The challenge, however, was that the Biden administration was only willing to remove the economic sanctions authorised by Trump, he added.

“This is not all we are looking for. That Trump unilaterally and unjustly imposed sanctions on real and legal entities in Iran under some allegations as Iran’s missile programme, regional issues or human rights is not acceptable,” Amir-Abdollahian said. “This is also one of the challenges which remain on the negotiating table in Vienna.”

Amir-Abdollahian said US officials had sent “many messages” to have direct talks with Iran but ruled out any such move. “Our last response to Americans and intermediaries was: any direct dialogue, contact and negotiation with the US would have very huge costs for my government,” the foreign minister said.

“We are not ready to enter into the process of direct talks with the US if we do not have a clear and promising outlook to reach a good agreement with sustainable guarantees in front of us,” he added.

He added that Tehran had indicated to the US that if Washington’s “intentions are genuine, you should take some practical and tangible steps on the ground before any direct talks and contacts can take place”.

This could include unfreezing billions of dollars of Iranian petrodollars stuck in foreign central banks because of Trump’s sanctions or a presidential executive order to lift some of the sanctions, he said.

Amir-Abdollahian said that in “general, we are optimistic”.

“We also welcome a good deal in the shortest time however this deal must uphold the rights of the Iranian people,” he added.