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Iran’s Zarif: US must stop trying to use illegal economic war as negotiating ‘leverage’

Iran’s foreign minister says he reminded his British counterpart during a phone conversation that the United States must stop trying to use its illegal economic war against Iran as “leverage” in the ongoing talks in the Austrian capital with the objective of reanimating the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement.

“Agreed in phone call with FM @DominicRaab on need to resume full compliance with the JCPOA,” Zarif tweeted on Friday evening.

Zarif said that he “underlined that US must return fully to its obligations & cease trying to use unlawful economic war against Iran as negotiating ‘leverage’.”

Agreed in phone call with FM @DominicRaab on need to resume full compliance with the JCPOA.

Underlined that US must return fully to its obligations & cease trying to use unlawful economic war against Iran as negotiating “leverage”.

Also discussed bilateral & consular issues.— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) June 4, 2021

Days earlier, Iran and the remaining parties to the deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), agreed to pause the Vienna talks for the fifth time and return to their capitals for further consultations over unresolved points of contention.

The negotiations, which began early in April, have been described as constructive and positive, but have not led to a final conclusion on how to restore the JCPOA and which sanctions will be removed in order for Iran to reverse the expansion of its nuclear activities.

Iran insists that all the sanctions that were imposed since the JCPOA went into effect in 2015 must be removed. The US, however, regards certain sanctions as consistent with the deal, making the prospects of reaching an agreement uncertain.

“As I understand it, the US will rejoin the #JCPOA as soon as the deal is restored and US #sanctions against #Iran are lifted,” Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s chief negotiator at the Vienna talks, explained in a tweet on Saturday, responding to a question on what would happen when an agreement is reached.

Ulyanov also said earlier that the restoration of the JCPOA may have a positive effect on the situation in the Persian Gulf.

It may “open the way to direct talks between regional states on regional security issues with due account of the existing initiatives including Russian concept of collective security in the area,” he said.

The restoration of the #JCPOA may have a positive effect on the situation in #PersianGulf and open the way to direct talks between regional states on regional security issues with due account of the existing initiatives including Russian concept of collective security in the area— Mikhail Ulyanov (@Amb_Ulyanov) June 4, 2021

American news website Politico reported on Friday that the negotiators have produced at least 20 pages of text with various options on how to solve the remaining hurdles, noting that the removal of sanctions is among long-running points of contention.

“The US and Iran still can’t agree on which ones the US will repeal,” Politico said, adding, “Iran wants guarantees the US won’t abandon the deal – again.”

The JCPOA was ditched by former US President Donald Trump in 2018. In quitting, he targeted Iran’s economy with the “worst sanctions ever” in hopes of bringing Tehran to its knees.

Trump’s anti-Iran measures were in tune with those of the Israeli regime, especially its premier Benjamin Netanyahu, who had put up a fight against the JCPOA when the deal was inked three years earlier.

In an interview published last Saturday, Trump said “there’s nobody that’s done more for Israel than I have.”

With Trump out of office and Netanyahu’s prime ministerial reign coming to an end, observers increasingly predict a smoother return to JCPOA commitments by all sides.

Former Israeli minister of military affairs Naftali Bennett and centrist politician Yair Lapid signed a coalition administration on June 2, whereby Bennett would serve as Israel’s prime minister until 2023 and then Lapid would assume the role until 2025.

The new administration would include Benny Gantz as defense minister and Gideon Sa’ar as one of the new administration’s policy architects. Both of them, as well as Lapid, have attacked Netanyahu for opposing the Joe Biden administration’s policy of returning the US into the JCPOA, while Bennett’s position remains unclear.

“But even if Bennett feels the same as Netanyahu, he will be prime minister of a new government where he will have to consider the attitudes of Gantz, Sa’ar and Lapid on defense issues far more than Netanyahu did with his ministers,” read an article published by the Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

“Of course, the return to the JCPOA would probably have happened even with Netanyahu in office. But with him and Trump out of the way, a return to the deal appears far more likely, and if it is sealed, it will have a major influence on regional actors’ behavior, including what Israel will be able to do to counter Iran’s nuclear ambitions,” the article claimed.

Zarif has also expressed joy over Netanyahu’s consignment to the “dustbin of history.” where he would join his “anti-Iran co-conspirators” including Trump, former US national security advisor John Bolton and former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

“This destiny has been repeated over several millennia for all those wishing Iranians harm,” he wrote in a tweet on Thursday and advised all the ill-wishers to “change course.”

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