An informed source close to the Iranian delegation at the Vienna talks on the removal of sanctions imposed on Tehran says a report by the London-based Rai al-Youm newspaper about an agreement reached by participants in the negotiations is not true.
The informed source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Iran’s official IRNA news agency on Sunday that Rai al-Youm’s report is “incorrect and fake.”
“It seems that by making up such stories, this paper pursues other goals, or those parties that are trying to leave a negative impact on the negotiations have provided this paper with such a totally incorrect text,” the source was quoted by Fars news agency as saying.
Rai al-Youm reported that the negotiating sides have reached a two-year deal in the Austrian capital, according to which the US would lift all sanctions placed on Iran by the administration of the former US President Donald Trump. According to the agreement, the paper claimed, Iran will keep its stockpile of highly enriched uranium, centrifuges, and uranium metal, which it produced after the US withdrawal from the Iran deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium will be transferred to Russia and returned to Iran at the moment the US administration withdraws from the agreement again, the paper claimed, adding that in the event of the US withdrawal from the agreement, Iran will start from where it stopped developing its nuclear program.
Rai al-Youm also claimed that the latest meeting between Iran’s top negotiator at the Vienna talks, Ali Bagheri Kani, and South Korea’s Deputy Foreign Minister Choi Jong Kun, and their announcement of an agreement on the release of Iran’s frozen assets came about at an American request as a proof of its goodwill. Iran's assets in Seoul are about seven billion dollars, which have been frozen at the request of the US.
During their meeting, held on Thursday, Bagheri Kani asserted that regardless of the outcome of the talks in Vienna, the South Korean government is obliged to unfreeze Iran’s frozen funds. “
The South Korean government is obliged to release Iran’s blocked assets, and unilateral US sanctions cannot justify non-payment of debts to Iran,” he added.
Following the meeting, IRNA quoted an informed source as saying that Bagheri Kani and Choi had discussed bilateral relations, including the unfreezing of Iran’s blocked funds in South Korea. The source also said there was no interim agreement on the agenda during the Vienna talks. “There is no discussion of an interim agreement, and such speculations are intended to help the West increase pressure on Iran.”
Since April 2020, Iran and the five remaining parties to the JCPOA have been negotiating a process to revive the deal, which was ditched by Trump in 2018. Iran argues that it does not seek an interim agreement or anything that goes beyond the original JCPOA or falls short of implementing it in full effect.
Reviving the JCPOA requires, first and foremost, Washington removing its unilateral sanctions against the Islamic Republic, which are in gross violation of the deal, Tehran argues.
The US and its Western allies were initially very pessimistic as the first round of talks under Iranian President Ebrahim Raeisi kicked off on November 29. As the talks progressed, however, they sounded much more optimistic. Critics dismiss the change of tone as a US-led maneuver to pressure Tehran.