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Iran FM: Tehran disregards oral messages, empty promises over JCPOA revival

Iran’s foreign minister says neither the United States’ oral messages nor the European powers’ empty promises are taken seriously in Tehran when it comes to their calls for a mutual return to the 2015 historic nuclear agreement.

“If there is real intention on the part of the other sides and all of them return to their commitments, Iran will return to its commitments as well,” Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said after a meeting with his Lebanese counterpart Abdallah Bou Habib in Beirut on Thursday.

“However, in this regard, the US’s oral messages are not our criterion,” Amir-Abdollahian told reporters. “The unfulfilled promises of the three European countries are not our criterion. We will act in accordance with the other sides’ practical actions, the removal of the sanctions and their return to their commitments.”

The fate of the nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was put in limbo after former US President Donald Trump withdrew Washington from it in 2018 and reinstated harsh economic sanctions against Iran.

Following Washington’s departure from the agreement, the remaining parties to the JCPOA have launched negotiations in the Austrian capital, Vienna, to revive the deal and bring the US back into full compliance with all of its contractual commitments.

However, the talks have been paused after the election of Ebrahim Raeisi as Iran’s president, with the new administration declaring that Tehran will engage in talks that are only aimed at reaching tangible outcomes, particularly the removal of all US sanctions.

In the meantime, the European trio—France, Britain and Germany—have joined the US calls on Iran to resume the negotiations as soon as possible.

But Amir-Abdollahian maintained that although Iran accepts negotiations as a principle, it only pays attention to talks that secure the Iranian nation’s rights and interests.

“In the nuclear agreement, Iran is the only country that remained committed until the very end and we will revive this approach if there is reciprocation from the other sides,” he said. 

Earlier, the top Iranian diplomat had urged Washington to release some of Iran’s blocked funds as a positive signal that would translate into tangible outcomes for the Iranian people, instead of constantly messaging Iran to come back into the Vienna talks.

“The Americans have been constantly looking for connections and sending messages [to Iran],” he said, adding, “If the Americans have the stated intention, they should release some of Iran’s blocked funds.”

‘Iran ready to build two power plants in Lebanon’

Elsewhere in his Thursday remarks, Amir-Abdollahian said Iran is ready to build two power plants in Lebanon, one in Beirut and the other in the south of the country, in a period of less than 18 months.

“We would do this quickly as part of a joint venture between Lebanese and Iranian investors and sharing Iranian technical engineering services [with Lebanon],” he said.

He also stressed that the Islamic Republic is prepared to help Lebanon overcome the economic crisis it is facing

Lebanon has been mired in a deep economic and financial crisis since late 2019. The crisis is the gravest threat to the country’s stability since the 15-year civil war ended in 1990.

The economic and financial crisis is mostly linked to the sanctions that the United States and its allies have imposed on Lebanon as well as foreign intervention in the Arab nation’s domestic affairs.

In August, while the Arab country was going through crippling fuel shortages, the secretary general of the Lebanese resistance group Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, announced the import of Iranian fuel to help Lebanon manage the shortages.

Three tankers carrying Iranian fuel have already reached Syria to be transferred to neighboring Lebanon.

Iran has also expressed readiness to sell fuel to the Lebanese government.

Iran stands with Lebanese

Amir-Abdollahian met later in the day with Lebanon’s new Prime Minister Najib Mikati.

During the meeting, he congratulated Mikati on forming the new Lebanese government and said the Islamic Republic, as always, will stand by the Lebanese people and is ready to assist the country, especially to overcome power outages and fuel shortages.

For his part, Mikati stressed that Lebanon welcomes any effort from brotherly and friendly countries and the international community, as long as it falls within the context of assisting Beirut in preserving the state.

“Lebanon is in dire need today, more than ever, to strengthen the confidence of the Lebanese in the state and its institutions, through normal relations among countries based on mutual respect and common interests, in a way that serves the aspirations of their people,” he said.

Mikati added that the best service that can be provided to Lebanon and the region is that the dialogue between the Arab countries and Iran yields full consensus on various issues.

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