Tehran rejects ‘interim deal’ on sanctions removal, says all bans must be discarded in one go

An Iranian man shops at a drugstore at the Nikan hospital in Tehran on September 11, 2018.

Tehran has reiterated that all US sanctions must be removed in one go, rejecting the idea of an “interim agreement” through the Vienna talks, three days before Iran and five major powers gather in the Austrian capital to discuss the removal of US sanctions. 

“All US sanctions must be removed in one go, effectively and verifiably with [the US] providing concrete guarantees” that it would not leave the nuclear deal again, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said on Friday.

On media speculations over a step-by-step removal of US sanctions through the Vienna format, Khatibzadeh said the position of the Islamic Republic on the matter has been clearly stated since a few months ago.

Last week, US-based Axios news outlet reported that US national security adviser Jake Sullivan raised with his Israeli counterpart the idea of an “interim agreement” with Iran to buy more time for further negotiations.

Citing informed US sources, Axios said the idea was that in exchange for a freeze from Iran (for example, on enriching uranium to 60%), the US and its allies could release some frozen Iranian funds or provide sanctions waivers on humanitarian goods.

Khatibzadeh said the new Iranian administration of Ebrahim Raeisi has clearly stated the Islamic Republic’s rational positions.

At the talks, Tehran and the G4+1 will focus on the removal of US sanctions that were slapped on Iran after Washington’s unlawful withdrawal from the nuclear deal, the spokesman asserted.

The nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was struck between Iran and six world powers in 2015. Three years later, the US unilaterally exited the deal and implemented a so-called maximum pressure policy against Iran.

Diplomatic efforts have been ongoing in Vienna since April to bring the US back into the deal and remove its anti-Iran sanctions after Washington’s so-called maximum pressure policy proved to be a miserable failure.

Iran has declared that its participation in the Vienna talks aims to have all US sanctions removed, clarifying time and again that it would reciprocate a verifiable removal of the sanctions by resuming all of its nuclear obligations under the deal.

The country began to scale back its nuclear commitments under the JCPOA a year after the US withdrawal from the deal and the Europeans’ failure to shield business with Tehran in the face of sanctions.

Tehran asserted that it was entitled to take “remedial measures” in response to the US withdrawal and the inaction of the other signatories, but also described its nuclear advancements as reversible on the condition that the US removes its sanctions and fully honors its contractual commitments without being able to leave the JCPOA again.

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