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Senior MP: JCPOA talks need new framework to push West to honor commitments

The Grand Hotel in Vienna, Austria, on April 6, 2021, where diplomats from Iran and the remaining parties to the nuclear agreement hold talks on restoring the deal. (File photo by AFP)

A senior member of the Iranian Parliament says the previous framework used to conduct multilateral negotiations in the Austrian capital for the revival of Iran’s nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was flawed and the talks must continue on a new platform.

“The negotiations [in Vienna] must continue in a way as to pursue [the main goals of] total removal of sanctions imposed on Iran followed by verification of their removal,” Vahid Jalalzadeh, who heads the Iranian Parliament’s Commission on National Security and Foreign Policy, said in an interview with Mehr news agency on Sunday.

Jalalzadeh said the Iranian nation can benefit much more if Iran’s negotiators, under the new administration of President Ebrahim Raeisi, could introduce a new framework at the talks, stressing, "We believe that the platform and framework used in Vienna talks under the previous administration was flawed."

Iran and the other parties to the JCPOA have held six rounds of talks in Vienna, which began after the Biden administration voiced willingness to rejoin the nuclear agreement, three years after the Trump administration unilaterally withdrew the United States from the deal and reinstated crippling sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

While unresolved disagreements remained on key issues, the participants took a break from the talks after Raeisi emerged victorious in Iran’s June presidential election, waiting for Iran’s democratic transition to take place to continue the talks.

The scope of the sanctions removal and Iran’s call for the US to guarantee that it will not ditch the JCPOA again are among key issues not settled during the administration of former Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

According to Jalalzadeh, the Vienna talks “must definitely reach a conclusion” under the Raeisi administration, which he said is not against negotiations, but rather seeks to engage in talks that are based on the interests of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

“Under the JCPOA, we accepted certain commitments and the other sides also accepted certain commitments, but they did not fulfill theirs,” he said, adding that Iran’s main argument is that the other sides must carry out their obligations first.

For that very reason, he explained, the framework accepted by the former negotiating team was faulty, but with a new platform, “I believe we can compel the Western sides to fully honor their commitments.”

In similar remarks, a member of the same commission said earlier this month that the model of the talks will change under the new administration.

“The talks continued during the Rouhani administration with no results, but we will certainly not see that during the new administration,” Zohreh Elahian said in an interview with Mehr published on August 19.

Bennett vows he won’t openly lobby against JCPOA

On Saturday, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei drew a parallel between the Trump and Biden administrations, describing the latter as a “cunning fox” that exceeded all limits of shame by talking and acting as if it was Iran that withdrew from the JCPOA.

Ayatollah Khamenei’s remarks came a day after Biden used his first meeting with new Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to threaten to “turn to other options” against Iran “if diplomacy failed.”

During their meeting, the Walla news site reported on Saturday, Bennett pledged to Biden that despite his opposition to a potential US move to rejoin the JCPOA, he will not openly lobby against the move.

Citing two American sources familiar with the details of the meeting, the news site said that the Israeli prime minister stressed the same point in his talks with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.

They added that Bennett said he believes that dialogue between Israel and the US will achieve better results and that the White House was very appreciative of his stance, which appears strikingly different from his predecessor Benjamin Netanyahu’s public clashes with the Biden and Obama administrations over the JCPOA.

Meanwhile, the Raeisi administration has said it would never leave a “logical negotiating table” and would not tie the fate of the country’s economy to the survival of the accord.

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