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Iran FM: Lack of US decision to remove sanctions hindering final agreement on JCPOA revival

Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian says inability of the US to make a political decision is the main obstacle in the way of Iran and the P4+1 group of countries to reach a final agreement in the Austrian capital of Vienna over the removal of anti-Tehran sanctions and a revival of the landmark 2015 deal.

“The lack of [the ability to make] a political decision on the part of the United States to remove the sanctions that are tied to economic benefit of the Iranian people is the [only] existing obstacle hindering achievement of a final outcome [in the Vienna talks],” Amir-Abdollahian said in a meeting with Enrique Mora in Tehran on Sunday. Mora is the EU’s deputy foreign policy chief and coordinator in talks held to restore the deal, which is officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“For us, availing ourselves of the full economic benefits [of the deal] and effective removal of sanctions are top priorities,” Iran’s foreign minister said.

The top Iranian diplomat also hailed the efforts made by the EU’s foreign policy chief, Joseph Borrell, and Mora during the talks with the five remaining parties to the JCPOA — Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China.

Iran’s foreign minister stressed that the Islamic Republic has participated in the Vienna talks with seriousness and offered all necessary initiatives to reach an agreement, adding, “Other parties [to the deal], especially the US government, must adopt a realistic approach to the settlement of the outstanding issues.”

The EU diplomat, for his part, presented a report on the latest developments in the Vienna talks and his assessment in this regard.

Earlier in the day, Mora held talks with Iran’s chief negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani, who warned the US to act realistically.

Iran’s deputy foreign minister and chief negotiator in the Vienna talks, Ali Bagheri Kani (R), welcomes Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service Enrique Mora in Tehran on March 27, 2022. (Via AFP)

Baqeri Kani added that Iran and the P4+1 group of countries can reach an agreement “if the American side is realistic.”

In a live televised interview on Saturday, the Iranian foreign minister said a final agreement in Vienna is close at hand, but there are “few important” issues that need to be resolved.

“What has been preventing the [Vienna] talks now from [culminating in] an agreement is few issues on the part of the Americans. There are challenges and differences of opinion on some issues,” Amir-Abdollahian said, noting that Washington has accepted that it should take steps in the action phase.

Earlier this month, the Vienna talks were paused for an undetermined period of time despite reports suggesting that they were in the “final stages.”

The United States, which is blamed for the current stalemate, is reluctant to take confidence-building measures due to its erroneous bias, procrastination in decision-making and excessive demands.

Iranian officials have repeatedly said the US needs to remove all illegal sanctions against the Islamic Republic in a verifiable manner and offer guarantees that a new US administration will not breach the JCPOA again before it can rejoin the deal.

Former US president Donald Trump unilaterally left the JCPOA in May 2018 and re-imposed the anti-Iran sanctions that the deal had lifted. He also placed additional sanctions on Iran under other pretexts not related to the nuclear case as part of his “maximum pressure” campaign.

In May 2019, following a year of strategic patience, Iran decided to let go of some of the restrictions on its nuclear energy program, resorting to its legal rights under the JCPOA, which grants a party the right to suspend its contractual commitments in case of non-compliance by the other side.

The Biden administration says it is willing to compensate for Trump’s mistake and rejoin the deal, but it has retained the sanctions as leverage.

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