Days before Vienna talks, Iran says US must guarantee it will not abandon nuclear deal again

The combo photo shows Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian (L) and European Union foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian says the United States must provide "serious and adequate" guarantees that it will never again unilaterally leave the landmark nuclear deal of 2015.

Amir-Abdollahian made the remarks in a phone call with the European Union foreign policy chief, Joseph Borrell, on Friday as Iran and the remaining parties to the historic nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), plan to resume talks in the Austrian capital of Vienna on Monday on the removal of US sanctions.

"There must be a serious and sufficient guarantee that the US, which is not trustworthy, will not leave the JCPOA again," he said.

Pointing to the contradictory behavior of the United States and lack of consistency between its words and actions, the top Iranian diplomat said the White House has in recent weeks imposed new sanctions on Iranian entities and individuals while announcing readiness to rejoin the JCPOA.

"Therefore, all should in practice witness the will and serious action to completely lift the sanctions [against Tehran]," Amir-Abdollahian said.

Earlier this month, the US Treasury Department placed six Iranian persons and one institution on Washington's sanctions list under the pretext of their trying to impact on the 2020 US presidential elections.

The US Treasury Department also last month imposed a fresh round of sanctions on four individuals and two entities allegedly involved in promoting the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) programs of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) and its Quds Force.

Iran has slammed the US move to impose a fresh round of sanctions on Iranian natural and legal persons, saying it contradicts Washington’s claim of seeking to return to the JCPOA and proves the White House is by no means reliable.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh on Friday reiterated that all US sanctions must be removed in one go, rejecting the idea of an “interim agreement” through the Vienna talks.

“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," Khatibzadeh said.

The United States unilaterally abandoned the multilateral nuclear deal in 2018 despite Iran’s full compliance with its nuclear undertakings, as repeatedly certified by the UN nuclear agency. The US then unleashed a “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran, which practically deprived the country of all of the deal’s economic benefits.

Envoys from Iran and the P4+1 – Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China – are expected to hold the seventh round of discussions in Vienna on Monday. The negotiations were paused in June, when Iran held its presidential election. Since then, the new Iranian administration has been reviewing the details of the six rounds of discussions held under the previous administration.

Good and even immediate agreement possible if sides return to compliance: Amir-Abdollahian

Elsewhere in the phone conversation, Amir-Abdollahian said participants in the Vienna talks can reach a "good and even immediate agreement" only if the sides return to full compliance with their obligations as per the JCPOA.

“If the opposing sides are prepared to return to their full obligations and the lifting of sanctions, it will be possible to reach a good and even immediate agreement.” 

He emphasized that despite violation of obligations by the US and the three European signatories to the JCPOA -- Britain, France and Germany -- Iran "will participate in the Vienna talks with goodwill and seriousness and wants a good and verifiable agreement."

The Iranian foreign minister said return to the JCPOA must constitute compliance to all its provisions and content in action.

He added that the Iranian negotiating team would consider all the issues that need to be settled as it is clear that no final outcome was achieved after six rounds of talks in Vienna.

Amir-Abdollahian emphasized that the Western side must adopt a "new and constructive approach" to the Vienna talks.

It is possible to return to JCPOA in its original form: Borrell

The EU foreign policy chief, for his part, said as coordinator of the Joint Commission, he has held talks with all sides and added that the Vienna talks must include detailed and intensive discussions about unsolved issues, particularly the removal of sanctions.

It is possible for all sides to return to the JCPOA in its original form, Borrell added.

He emphasized that the JCPOA revival is the only way to remove sanctions against Iran, noting that this would help both Tehran reclaim its rights and the international community become assured about the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program.

Borrell expressed hope that all parties would engage in the Vienna talks with a positive and pragmatic approach as well as a firm determination to discuss the unsolved issues and the removal of the sanctions.

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