Iran insists US lift sanctions first to revive nuclear deal talks

WION Web Team
Vienna, Austria Published: Mar 01, 2021, 06:25 PM(IST)

Rouhani Photograph:( AFP )

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President Joe Biden has said Washington is ready for talks about both nations resuming compliance with the pact, under which Tehran secured an easing of sanctions by limiting its nuclear work. But each side wants the other to move first

Iran on Monday insisted that the United States should lift sanctions first to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers that former President Donald Trump abandoned.

President Joe Biden has said Washington is ready for talks about both nations resuming compliance with the pact, under which Tehran secured an easing of sanctions by limiting its nuclear work. But each side wants the other to move first.

The West fears Iran wants to build nuclear weapons, while Tehran says that has never been its goal.

"President Joe Biden's administration should change Trump's maximum pressure policy towards Tehran ... If they want talks with Iran, first they should lift sanctions," Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said.

Washington said on Sunday it was disappointed by Tehran's refusal to hold talks but was ready to "re-engage in meaningful diplomacy" and would consult with major powers.

While Iran has been demanding the lifting of US sanctions first, Washington says Tehran must return to compliance with the deal, which Iran has been progressively breaching since 2019.

"The new US administration's refusal to return to the deal is a historic mistake," Khatibzadeh said, saying Tehran would continue to work with the U.N. nuclear watchdog despite scaling back cooperation.

Iran's foreign minister urged the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) 35-nation Board of Governors not to "create a mess" by endorsing a US-led push to adopt a resolution against Tehran's decision to scale back its cooperation with the U.N. nuclear watchdog.

"Europeans, with the backing of the United States, have initiated a wrong path in the IAEA's board ... we believe this move will lead to a mess," Iranian media quoted Mohammad Javad Zarif as saying on Monday. "We have solutions for all scenarios."

The head of the UN's nuclear watchdog appealed Monday for its inspection work in Iran not to become a "bargaining chip" as world powers mull negotiations to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

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"The inspection work of the IAEA must be preserved... (it) should not be put in the middle of a negotiating table as a bargaining chip," International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi told a press conference at the start of the agency's quarterly meeting of its board of governors.

On February 23, Iran suspended some IAEA inspections in response to the US refusal so far to lift sanctions imposed by former President Donald Trump.

Grossi described the suspension of those inspections as a "huge loss", but when asked if the agency could still reassure the international community that the Iranian nuclear programme was exclusively peaceful, he replied: "So far, so good."

Grossi said the IAEA would continue to have the means to verify the amount of uranium enriched by Iran.

On February 21 Grossi announced after two days of talks with Iranian officials in Tehran that Iran and the IAEA had struck an interim three-month deal to mitigate the impact of the suspended inspections.

Recordings from monitoring equipment the IAEA installed at Iran's nuclear sites will be kept by Iran for three months and provided to the IAEA if US sanctions are lifted.

European states are considering putting forward a resolution at this week's meeting condemning Iran's decision to suspend some inspections.

Iran has said that the introduction of such a resolution would push it to abandon the temporary agreement with the IAEA.

Grossi refused to be drawn on the utility of a critical resolution.

"My appeal to all is to have constructive discussions and to preserve the work of the agency," Grossi said.

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