Iran’s top negotiator in the forthcoming talks in the Austrian capital on the removal of illegal sanctions imposed on the country says Tehran’s main goal is to secure a full and verifiable removal of all sanctions through the Vienna negotiations.
Ali Baqeri-Kani made the remarks in an article published by the Financial Times on Sunday in which the Iranian diplomat slammed Western countries, especially the United States, for using talks as a tool to restrict Iran’s peaceful nuclear program.
“Western countries, in particular the US, work tirelessly to portray ‘negotiations’ as merely a process to restrict Iran’s legitimate and peaceful nuclear program, which is enshrined in international treaties and watched by oversight organizations,” Baqeri-Kani said.
He then emphasized that Iran, however, seeks to achieve two goals through engaging in Vienna talks.
“In this vein, we have two goals: the first is to gain a full, guaranteed and verifiable removal of the sanctions that have been imposed on the Iranian people. Without this, the process will continue indefinitely,” Baqeri-Kani said.
Iran’s senior diplomat noted that the country’s second goal is “to facilitate the legal rights of the Iranian nation to benefit from peaceful nuclear knowledge, especially the all-important enrichment technology for industrial purposes, according to the terms of the international Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).”
Baqeri-Kani left Tehran for Vienna on Saturday to attend the seventh round of talks that are intended to bring the US back to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal.
A return to the JCPOA would mean Washington needs to remove its unlawful sanctions on Tehran, three years after the US left the 2015 accord and unleashed a “maximum pressure” campaign on the Islamic Republic.
The US withdrawal came while the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had issued 15 consecutive reports certifying Iran’s full compliance with its nuclear obligations under the JCPOA.
‘Iranians trust neither process nor outcome of JCPOA platform’
Elsewhere in his article, Baqeri-Kani said all efforts made previously to build trust between Iran and other parties to Vienna talks have failed “mainly because the West regards any agreement solely as an established platform from which to launch more pressure against Iran.”
“This is the crux of the dispute that has forced us, six years after the initial agreement, to the table yet again,” he noted.
“We will be starting these new discussions under circumstances influenced by the unfortunate fate of the JCPOA, when US President Donald Trump unilaterally decided to abandon this deal. This was a terrible betrayal of trust for Iran and Iranians.”
Baqeri-Kani, who also serves as Iran’s deputy foreign minister for political affairs, said based on Iran’s experience, the West does not seek to implement a deal, but rather, seeks to score public perception points while stealthily “dis-implementing” the agreement in every possible way.
“From our experience, this is followed by actions to ‘hijack’ the JCPOA platform to force Iran to make more concessions in areas unrelated to the nuclear issue. As a result, the Iranian people trust neither the process, nor its outcome,” he added.
‘West needs to pay price for failing to uphold its part of JCPOA’
Stressing that past blunders should not be repeated during the upcoming round of talks, the Iranian diplomat said all sides have learned over the past years “what and who can be trusted.”
“To ensure any forthcoming agreement is ironclad, the West needs to pay a price for having failed to uphold its part of the bargain,” he asserted, adding, “As in any business, a deal is a deal, and breaking it has consequences.”
Under the administration of President Ebrahim Raeisi, Iran has stressed that the US needs to compensate for its wrongdoings by removing all of its sanctions in a verifiable manner and providing a guarantee that it will never leave the deal again.
However, the Biden administration, which had promised to return to the JCPOA and call off the so-called maximum pressure on Tehran, is calling for a “mutual return” to the deal.
Tehran has described the wording employed by Washington as a misrepresentation of what happened to the JCPOA, saying unlike the US, it never left the deal to have to return to it.
‘Mutual compliance not a proper basis for negotiations’
Baqeri-Kani also criticized the principle of “mutual compliance” with the deal, which has been highlighted by Western parties to the JCPOA, as an inappropriate base for negotiations.
“Iran remains committed to the process and we will adhere to our commitments. From our perspective, the principle of 'mutual compliance' cannot form a proper base for negotiations since it was the US government, which unilaterally left the deal."
The US, the lead negotiator continued, should therefore demonstrate that it is serious this time and that it possesses the necessary competence to fulfill its commitments.
He also called on the other parties to the JCPOA to provide Iran with a clear and transparent mechanism to ensure that the US sanctions will be removed.
“For what other conceivable reason would we compromise regarding Iran’s technological advances and nationally-precious domestic nuclear program?” he inquired.
The Islamic Republic’s unwavering position on the verifiable removal of US sanctions, observers say, stems from the fact that the US started to impose new rounds of sanctions on Iran merely a day after the JCPOA’s implementation date.
It also took the US Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) seven months to grant Airbus and Boeing partial permission to sell planes to Iran. Even then, Iran received only three out of 117 Airbus passenger aircraft it ordered and none from Boeing.
The significant noncompliance of the other parties, in particular the US, prompted Iran to invoke the “dispute resolution mechanism” several times both before and after the US withdrawal from the nuclear pact.
‘Iran will not succumb to threats, sanctions under any US president’
In his article, Baqeri-Kani also pointed out that Iran did not succumb to the use of either military threats, economic sanctions, or “maximum pressure” under Trump, stating that the country will not do so under President Joe Biden.
“In order to secure the rights and interests of our nation, we are ready for a fair and careful discussion, based on the principles of ‘guarantee’ and ‘verification’,” he maintained, reiterating that Iran demands compensation for the violation of the deal, which includes “the removal of all post-JCPOA sanctions.”
In return, he went on, Iran is ready to voluntarily fulfill its nuclear commitments in accordance with the agreement.
“We remain prepared to react proportionately to any pressure and reciprocate any goodwill gesture,” Baqeri-Kani noted.
“We have made our choice. We will now find out whether or not the West has the will to enter real negotiations,” he concluded.