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Iran says all Trump sanctions have to be removed

As diplomats continue negotiations in Vienna, a Foreign Ministry spokesman in Tehran says US sanctions imposed on Iran under any heading during the former Trump administration should be removed.

“The United States has to decide once and for all whether it wants to continue the legacy of the previous administration,” Saeed Khatibzadeh said at a weekly press conference in Tehran Monday. 

The spokesman stressed that Iran is not in a hurry for an agreement, even though it will not allow the negotiations to drag on. 

“There is no deadlock in the Vienna talks where we are examining the key issues. We are in no hurry to reach an agreement and we will not allow the negotiations to be attritional,” Khatibzadeh said. 

The spokesman said the fifth round of the talks to remove US sanctions on Iran could be the last one if the “key remaining issues” are resolved.

“We proceed with the negotiations in Vienna with necessary care and meticulousness. Every round could have been the last, but because there remained some issues, they were extended to the next.”  

Khatibzadeh made the remarks in response to a question on the latest remarks of Russia’s top negotiator, Mikhail Ulyanov, who wrote in a tweet on Sunday that there are no plans for the sixth round of talks in the Austrian capital.

“The negotiators proceed from the understanding that the current round should be final,” Ulyanov said. 

“If the remaining key issues are resolved, this can be the last round, otherwise, [the talks] will continue,” said Khatibzadeh.

“The negotiations in Vienna have had good and noteworthy progress in the three working groups, but there remain key issues” which should be dealt with carefully, he added.

The Vienna talks began between Iran and the five remaining parties to the nuclear deal – Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany – early last month.

The aim is to restore the nuclear pact, also called the JCPOA, by securing a US return to the deal followed by Iran’s resumption of its nuclear obligations, which Tehran abandoned a year after Washington pulled out of the agreement in May 2018.

So far, the talks have not led to a tangible outcome, but Tehran says the US has already agreed to remove the main sanctions targeting Iran’s oil industry and financial sector.

Khatibzadeh said the ball is in Washington’s court to decide whether it wants to pursue the failed legacy of former president Donald Trump – namely the maximum pressure policy – or turn over a new leaf and return to its obligations under the JCPOA, which tasks the US with the removal of anti-Iran sanctions.

“If that happens, Iran’s response will be the full implementation of the JCPOA,” he asserted.

‘JCPOA only solution on table’

Asked to comment on US officials’ growing call to “lengthen and strengthen” the JCPOA, Khatibzadeh said the only solution on the table is the 2015 deal.

“Instead of trying to appease the sworn enemy of the JCPOA, they’d better return to their commitments under [UN Security Council] Resolution 2231 and the JCPOA,” he said, making a reference to US officials’ consultations with Israel over the JCPOA.

“The only option and solution on the table is the JCPOA and the same JCPOA that was signed in 2015 … This is the best thing that the current US administration can think of,” the spokesman added.

The Israeli regime has done its utmost to torpedo the JCPOA since the deal was inked. It strongly supported Trump’s withdrawal from the historic pact and his maximum pressure campaign on Iran.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last week that Washington should avoid rejoining the JCPOA, claiming that the deal paved the way for Iran to develop nuclear weapons, an allegation that Iran has categorically rejected throughout years.

Netanyahu made the remarks in a joint press event with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who said the US would try to rejoin the JCPOA nevertheless, but added that the US and Israel continued to work together to counter what he claimed as “Iran’s destabilizing actions in the region.”

‘Tehran entitled to use international waters’

If other issues are to be discussed, Khatibzadeh continued, “there is a rather lengthy list of destructive measures by the US and its allies in the region” that can be brought forward.

He added that the US should undertake many actions if it is ready to negotiate about those issues.

On a recent report over US threats to two Iranian naval vessels reportedly headed to Venezuela, Khatibzadeh said Iran has always been present in international waters and is entitled to such right under international law.

“No country can violate this right,” he warned.

On Saturday, American news website Politico reported that the US national security community was monitoring two Iranian vessels whose ultimate destination might be Venezuela.

Citing three people familiar with the situation, Politico said the vessels have been heading south along the east coast of Africa.

Khatibzadeh warned the US against any miscalculation, saying, “Those who are sitting inside glass houses should be careful.”

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