MESOP MIDEAST NEWS: Iran lauds ‘good progress’ on return to nuclear deal

Iran says that the nuclear talks are headed in the right direction, particularly on guarantees against another US exit.

Al-Monitor StaffJanuary 24, 2022Iran says there has been progress

made in the nuclear talks with world powers on containing Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for US sanctions relief, effectively reimplementing the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which the United States exited in 2018 under the previous administration.

Saeed Khatibzadeh, spokesperson for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, told reporters today, “Progress in the talks is headed in the right direction. In all four areas we have had good progress.” He continued, “Many of Iran’s ideas have turned into words, such as in the area of guarantees. What’s important is that all of the sides in the negotiations have accepted that what happened in previous years with the US exit from the JCPOA should not be repeated.”

Khatibzadeh added, “Iran is in Vienna for an agreement that has two main features: reliability and durability. For this reason adopting a guarantee is important.” He also said that Iran has “ideas that are completely operational and presented realistically,” providing the groundwork for talks about guarantees.

Negotiators are currently one month into the eighth round of the talks to revive the JCPOA. One of the sticking points for Iran about reviving the JCPOA is how to avoid a repeat of President Donald Trump’s exit from the deal. While President Joe Biden seeks to revive the deal, it is possible that another Republican or even another Democrat for leave it once again. The United States is not directly part of the negotiations, which include the United Kingdom, France and Germany.

In response to US statements that it would be unlikely to revive the JCPOA unless Iran agrees to release the four dual nationals currently detained in Iran, Khatibzadeh said, “From day one Iran has never accepted any preconditions.” He added, “The negotiations are complex enough; we must not make them more complex.” Emard Sharghi, Morad Tahbaz, Baquer Namazi and Siamak Namazi are all currently detained in Iran, charged with or convicted of various national security crimes, though many international organizations believe they are being held as leverage by Iranian security forces to trade for Iranians held abroad.

Over the weekend reports surfaced that Russia had proposed an interim deal to Iran. Khatibzadeh said, “An interim deal or anything similar to that has never been on the agenda.” On the possibility of direct talks with the United States, Khatibzadeh said, “As long as the US continues maximum pressure and its previous policies, the negotiations will continue under their current conditions.” Trump, upon exiting the deal, implemented a ‘maximum pressure’ campaign of sanctions as well as covert sabotage. Iran has refused to negotiate with the United States as long as those sanctions remain in place.

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