The spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry says his country has never accepted any preconditions for talks between representatives from the Islamic Republic and the remaining parties to the 2015 deal on the removal of US sanctions against Tehran.
US Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley had said that Washington is unlikely to strike an agreement with Iran unless Tehran releases US prisoners held in the Islamic Republic.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran has not accepted any preconditions from the onset of [Vienna] talks. Such issues are simply intended for the domestic audience and media use,” Saeed Khatibzadeh said at a weekly press conference in Tehran on Monday, responding to Malley.
“The unambiguous message has always been that negotiations are complex enough and should not be further perplexed by such complicated statements,” he said.
Khatibzadeh pointed to the grave situation of Iranian citizens that are being held hostage inside America, stating that Tehran has either directly or indirectly raised the issue with the US on multiple occasions.
“The matter has been on our agenda both before and after the talks. The case with Iranian and US citizens, however, is of different nature. This humanitarian issue can be resolved in the shortest possible time if the United States adheres to the agreements it has already made,” the Iranian diplomat pointed out.
Khatibzadeh further noted, “Unlike our citizens who have been taken hostage in the United States under the false pretext of circumventing illegal US sanctions against the Iranian nation, those imprisoned in Iran have been found guilty of their crimes by the Judiciary, and necessary legal procedures have been conducted by competent courts of law.”
The spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry highlighted that all sides in Vienna talks agree that a guarantee that Washington will not once again leave the Iran deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is vital to a successful conclusion of the talks.
“We are witnessing progress of talks in Vienna, and we have already made good progress in four areas. The parentheses have been reduced and the ideas have turned into words. The important point is that all parties in Vienna agree that the United States must not quit the nuclear deal again,” he said.
“We have presented very practical and realistic ideas in Vienna, and we think that our ideas will enable dialogue in the field of guarantees. Of course, it is natural that we do not re-negotiate what has already been negotiated behind closed doors,” the Iranian diplomat pointed out.
“Iran is looking for a sustainable and reliable agreement. The path to receiving guarantees is the right one,” he noted.
Iran and the remaining participants to the JCPOA have been holding talks in the Austrian capital since April last year with the aim of reviving the deal by bringing the US into full compliance.
The US left the JCPOA in May 2018 under former President Donald Trump. The Vienna talks began on a promise by Trump’s successor, Joe Biden, to rejoin the deal and repeal the so-called maximum pressure campaign against Iran.
Biden, however, has so far failed to undo Trump’s own undoing of Barack Obama’s Iran policy, which led to the JCPOA in June 2015.
On Sunday, Iran’s lead negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani and Enrique Mora, the European Union’s deputy foreign policy chief and head of the JCPOA Joint Commission, held a meeting. Later in the day, the top Iranian diplomat met with delegates of the P4+1 group of countries.
The eighth round of the Vienna talks began on December 27 with a focus on the removal of all sanctions that the United States had imposed on Iran after its unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA. The US is not allowed to directly attend the talks due to its pullout in 2018 from the deal with Iran.
During the new round of talks, Iran has rejected the notion of setting timelines for achieving an agreement, with its representatives noting that they prefer to clinch a logical accord within a logical period of time.
Iran has also made its agreement to a new accord conditional on the realization of the Iranian nation's rights and interests.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Khatibzadeh said Iran has always supported the oppressed Yemeni nation and has sought to facilitate intra-Yemeni Yemeni dialogue through political mechanisms and diplomatic channels.
“Unfortunately, those making lucrative profits out of arms trade as well as some European countries like Britain, Germany and France and the United States are specifically involved [in Yemen crisis]. The latest string of bombings would not have happened if there were no support of these countries,” the Iranian official said.
The spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry also referred to the joint naval drills between Iran, China, and Russia in the Indian Ocean, stating that the military exercise carried the message of peace and stability in the region.
Khatibzadeh also said Iran has agreed to the intra-Afghan talks and is seriously looking for the negotiations to be in the best interests of the Afghan people.