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US behavior to determine outcome of nuclear talks: Iran FM

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian says the United States’ behavior will determine the outcome of Iran’s nuclear talks with world powers, stressing that Tehran distrusts Washington’s seriousness about returning to the nuclear agreement with Iran.

Amir-Abdollahian made the remarks during a press conference held on the sidelines of the 76th Conference of the UN General Assembly in New York City on Friday.

“Our criterion is the practical behavior that we observe from American politicians and statesmen. We will make decisions based on US President Joe Biden’s practical behavior,” Iran’s top diplomat said.

Back in July 2015, Iran and world powers, including the US, Russia, China, France, Britain, and Germany, struck a landmark nuclear deal, officially titled the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Under the accord, Iran agreed to scale back some of its nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief.

However, the US, under former president Donald Trump, unilaterally withdrew from the deal and reinstated sanctions on the Islamic Republic, although the country had been fully compliant with the deal.

In early April, Iran and the remaining parties to the JCPOA began to hold talks in Vienna, Austria, after the Biden administration voiced willingness to rejoin the nuclear agreement and remove the draconian sanctions his predecessor slapped on the Islamic Republic.

Since the beginning of the Vienna talks, Tehran has argued that the US—as the first party that violated the JCPOA—needs to take the first step by returning to full compliance with the agreement. Tehran also says it will resume all of its nuclear commitments under the deal only after the US removes all the sanctions in practice.

Referring to JCPOA, Amir-Abdollahian noted that the US on the one hand insists on returning to the deal and asks Iran to return to the Vienna talks, but at the same time imposes fresh sanctions on the Islam Republic. He said such behavior is paradoxical, which does not contain a constructive message.

“It is the behavior of the United States that determines the outcome of the JCPOA negotiations. Since Mr. Biden took office, he has only been making contradictory remarks instead of taking constructive actions,” Amir-Abdollahian stressed.

The Iranian foreign minister further emphasized that the new government in Iran, led by President Ebrahim Raeisi, is a pragmatic government.

What matters most to us is “the extent to which American statesmen live up to their commitments. It is unacceptable for Biden to talk about negotiations, agreements, and even requests for bilateral talks with the Islamic Republic, but at the same time, to continue the wrong policies of his predecessor Donald Trump,” Amir-Abdollahian added.

He further said that Iran is reviewing the case of the Vienna talks, noting that they will resume soon. He also stressed that Iran considers negotiation as constructive when it has tangible and practical results.

Addressing the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Biden announced his willingness to rejoin the JCPOA.

The US president said Washington was “working” with China, France, Russia, Britain and Germany to “engage Iran diplomatically and to seek a return to” the JCPOA. “We’re prepared to return to full compliance if Iran does the same,” he said.

Separately on Friday, Amir-Abdollahian met with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian.

The Iranian foreign minister told the top French diplomat that the current US administration has not taken any serious and practical steps to return to its obligations and, on the contrary, has imposed new sanctions on Iran.

“Iran doubts the seriousness of the Biden administration in returning to the JCPOA,” Amir-Abdollahian stressed.

Iran won’t tie its economy to JCPOA: FM

Further on the sidelines of the 76th Conference of the UN gathering on Friday, Amir-Abdollahian and South Africa’s Minister for International Relations Naledi Pandor discussed the two countries’ bilateral relations.

Amir-Abdollahian expressed satisfaction with the level of Iran-South Africa relations. 

He also told Naledi that Iran will return to the Vienna talks to revive the JCPOA, but it will not tie its economy with the nuclear deal, stressing that Iran will return to full compliance with the agreement if its Western parties do so. 

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