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Tehran says US must accept responsibility for status quo, remove all sanctions to regain JCPOA membership

Spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry Saeed Khatibzadeh speaks at a weekly press conference in Tehran, Iran, on November 8, 2021. (Photo by IRNA)

The spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry says the United States must remove all sanctions against the Islamic Republic and provide firm assurances that it sincerely intends to return to the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement.

Saeed Khatibzadeh said at a weekly press conference on Monday that Washington needs to guarantee that no future US president would be able to “make a mockery of the world and international law” again by repeating the US withdrawal from the deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“The path for a US return to the JCPOA is quite clear,” he said. Washington, as “the culprit responsible for the status quo, needs to accept to come back from the path it has taken.”

The diplomat explained that the US then needs to remove all the cruel and illegal sanctions it has slapped against Tehran following its unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal in May 2018 “in one go and in an effective way.”

Khatibzadeh underscored that Washington is no longer a party to the JCPOA, and therefore cannot urge the remaining parties to do things in that regard.

The US, first and foremost, would better “prove its brotherhood,” he said, dismissing Washington’s cynical stance on Iran’s willingness to fully honor the deal.

According to Khatibzadeh, President Joe Biden’s administration has done in practice the opposite of what it has promised to do in words.

Former US President Donald Trump nixed the JCPOA in May 2018 and re-imposed the anti-Iran sanctions that the deal had lifted.

He also placed additional sanctions on Iran under other pretexts not related to the nuclear case as part of his “maximum pressure” campaign.

Following a year of strategic patience, Iran resorted to its legal rights stipulated in Article 26 of the JCPOA, which grants a party the right to suspend its contractual commitments in case of non-compliance by other signatories and let go of some of the restrictions imposed on its nuclear energy program.

Iran and the remaining parties to the JCPOA have held six rounds of talks in Vienna, which began after the US administration of Joe Biden voiced a willingness to rejoin the nuclear agreement, three years after Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from the deal.

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

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

In recent weeks, there has been mounting pressure on Tehran to return to the negotiating table.

The Raeisi administration, for its part, has announced on several occasions that it will resume the talks only with the aim of removing all of the United States’ illegal sanctions and that it will not take part in talks for the sake of talks.

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