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Tehran seeking ‘lasting, dependable agreement’ out of Vienna talks: Foreign Ministry spokesman

Spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, Saeed Khatibzadeh, speaks to reporters at a press conference in Tehran, Iran, on January 10, 2022. (Photo by Fars news agency)

The spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry says the country is after a “lasting and dependable” agreement during the ongoing negotiations in the Austrian capital city of Vienna to restore the 2015 deal to its original format.

“What is currently taking place in Vienna is indicative of efforts made by all parties in order to reach a sustainable agreement … In Vienna, the focus is on the four issues of sanctions removal, guarantees, verification, and nuclear matters,” Saeed Katibzadeh said at a weekly press briefing in Tehran on Monday.

Khatibzadeh said the talks have reached a point that would determine whether the other side is serious or not.

While noting the “good progress” made in all of the aforementioned issues, Khatibzadeh stressed that Iran alone cannot maintain the pace of the negotiations and the other side should speed up its efforts as well.

“It is not acceptable that the other side would move at turtle speed and we move at light speed,” Khatibzadeh stated.

The Iranian diplomat underlined that Tehran is looking for “a durable and reliable agreement” out of the talks, and no accord that falls short of such criteria is on the agenda of Iran’s negotiators.

Iran and the P4+1 group of countries – Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China – resumed talks in Vienna on January 3 after the parties took a three-day break for the New Year. The US is not allowed to directly attend the talks due to its pullout in 2018 from the deal with Iran.

The eighth round of the Vienna talks began on December 27 with a focus on the removal of all sanctions that the United States imposed on Iran following its unilateral withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) three years after the deal was inked.

During the previous round, the first under Iran’s new President Ebrahim Raeisi, Iran presented new proposals at the negotiating table and later criticized the European parties for failing to do the same.

‘Neither optimistic nor pessimistic’

In his Monday presser, Khatibzadeh also said Iran remains neither optimistic nor pessimistic regarding the prospects of the talks.

“We negotiate realistically and report to people realistically,” he said, in a veiled reference to the constant change of tone on the part of the United States and its European allies regarding the talks.

He said while the opposite side previously sought to extract concessions through a media misinformation campaign, it has now realized that such an approach is futile and is now focusing on Vienna talks.

“We must all work to ensure that the United States’ return to the JCPOA is accompanied by necessary guarantees and verification,” Khatibzadeh said. “The removal of sanctions should also be carried out effectively in accordance with the JCPOA. Such issues cannot materialize through an interim agreement.”

The Foreign Ministry spokesman noted that the ongoing Vienna talks are merely aimed at bringing Washington to full and verifiable implementation of its obligations under the 2015 agreement.

“We have never demanded anything beyond the JCPOA during our negotiations in Vienna, and will never accept such matters to be raised and discussed,” he said.

Khatibzadeh also noted that Iran and the United States have expressed their viewpoints on the removal of sanctions in a verifiable manner and on firm assurances that no future US administration would be able to make a mockery of the deal and international regulations by withdrawing from it again.

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