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Tehran slams UK foreign secretary’s ‘harsh tweets’, urges London to adopt long overdue change in approach

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman has reacted to “harsh tweets” by UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, saying such slogans may fetch headlines but they can never replace lawful verdicts issued by courts, making a reference to the case of Nazanin Zaghari who serves a prison sentence for a number of security offenses.

Truss wrote in a tweet on Thursday that the UK was “working tirelessly to secure” Zaghari’s release and her return to her family.   

“I pressed Iran yesterday on this and will continue to until she returns home,” she added.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh hit back, saying, “Harsh tweets—contrary to IRL tone—may fetch headlines.”

“But slogans can never replace lawful verdicts issued by courts,” he added.

In an earlier tweet on Wednesday, the British foreign secretary said she had pressed two issues during her meeting with Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in New York.

“I’m absolutely determined to secure the release of detained British nationals,” she wrote. “And I want to bring Iran back to the table on the nuclear deal and return to Vienna talks.”

Zaghari is an Iranian national who lived in Britain at the time of her arrest. Iran does not recognize dual nationality, and considers dual citizens as Iranian citizens only. 

Referring to the meeting, Khatibzadeh said as Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian has made it clear, the UK “must adopt long overdue change in its approach.”

Back in April, Iran and the remaining parties to the 2015 nuclear agreement began talks in Vienna to revive the historic agreement, officially referred to as the JCPOA, by bringing the US back into full compliance with the deal.

The Vienna talks hit a pause in June after Iran’s presidential election, but the new administration of Ebrahim Raeisi has voiced readiness to resume the talks after taking full stock of the previous rounds of negotiations.

‘US patience is wearing thin’

A senior official at the Joe Biden administration said on Thursday that Washington’s patience was wearing thin and that further delays could lead the US and its partners to conclude a return to the JCPOA was no longer worthwhile.

While Iran has said it is ready to rejoin the talks, it has not yet offered a date for a resumption, named a negotiating team or indicated that it is willing to pick up where the negotiations left off in June, according to the US official, who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity.

Iranian officials have said as the party which abandoned the nuclear accord and imposed sanctions on Tehran, the US should take the first step to undo its past wrongs, but Washington has been trying to throw the ball at Iran’s court and maintain the core elements of its most draconian sanctions.     

According to the Associated Press, the official said if the talks don’t resume, the US will at some point determine that Iran is no longer interested in the benefits that the JCPOA offers or that its recent technological advances could not be undone by the limits the deal imposed.

“We’re still interested. We still want to come back to the table,” the senior US State Department official said. “The window of opportunity is open. It won’t be open forever if Iran takes a different course.”

Since the beginning of the Vienna talks, Iran has made it clear that it seeks the removal of all sanctions imposed on the country after the JCPOA went into effect in January 2016. The US, however, insists that it is willing to remove only those that are inconsistent with the JCPOA.

In his Tuesday address to the UN General Assembly, President Raeisi said Washington is using sanctions as a “new way of war” against other nations.

“Sanctions against the Iranian nation started not with my country’s nuclear program; they even predate the Islamic Revolution and go back to the year 1951 when oil nationalization went underway in Iran,” Raeisi maintained.

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