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Iran says US to blame if Vienna talks collapse

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian says the responsibility for a possible failure of the Vienna talks rests solely with the West, and the United States in particular, as the Islamic Republic has invariably demonstrated its readiness to sign a good deal. 

Amir-Abdollahian made the remarks in an interview with CNN on the sidelines of the 58th Munich Security Conference (MSC) in the German capital on Saturday.

President Ebrahim Raeisi, the foreign minister said, has the serious will to achieve a good deal with the other side.

“Now, we are at a very sensitive time and the other side should be realistic; and if the talks fail, we believe that it is the Americans and the other side that are responsible for it,” he added. “The Islamic Republic of Iran has shown its seriousness and has shown that it really wants the deal to be done and we have been trying to reach the deal.”

Iran and the five remaining parties to the 2015 Iran deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), are engaged in the eighth round of negotiations in the Austrian capital to bring the US back into the deal by removing its sanctions, which are in grave violation of the agreement.

Back in 2018, then-US president Donald Trump left the deal and unleashed a "maximum pressure" campaign in the hope of pressing Iran into signing a “better deal.” However, his move backfired as it prompted the Islamic Republic to reduce its compliance as per an article of the agreement which allows the parties to take countermeasures if their rights are not observed.  

President Raeisi has said any possible agreement through the Vienna format must include the removal of all sanctions and the provision of credible guarantees that will enable Iran to thoroughly enjoy the dividends of the 2015 deal.

‘Now is the time for West to take necessary political decisions’

Amir-Abdollahian also met European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on the sidelines of the 58th Munich Security Conference, during which the Iranian foreign minister stressed the need for the West to take necessary political decisions so that a deal could be reached in the shortest possible time.

Stressing that Tehran has so far presented all initiatives and proposals for a good deal, Amir-Abdullahian said, “Now is the time for the United States and the three European countries to show the real will to reach an agreement in the shortest possible time by making the necessary political decisions.”

“If it were not for Iran's initiatives, we would not be so close to an agreement,” he noted. “But the other side should know that Tehran will not ignore its red lines."

‘No need for direct talks with US as long as there is no clear prospect’

Separately, Amir-Abdollahian was asked about the possibility of direct talks between the Iranian and American delegations in Vienna.

“In recent weeks, the Americans have been asking through various intermediaries to negotiate directly with us. In response to the mediators, we stated that the prospects for such negotiations were not very clear to us, and if we were not to achieve anything, there was no need for direct talks. If the American side takes a major initiative, including the lifting of some sanctions, then it can be said that the US intentions are real,” the top Iranian diplomat said.

“We hear from the Americans that Mr. Biden has good faith,” Amir-Abdollahian said, stressing that he had stated in meetings on the sidelines of the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York in September that if the US president had good faith, he would release $10 billion of Iran's frozen assets in foreign banks.

“We do not ask Mr. Biden for a loan or funds, but we want him to release our assets in good faith,” he said.

Amir-Abdollahian underlined that the American side speaks of good faith only in words and that is not enough for direct talks. “They must show their goodwill in a practical way and on the ground; they can lift some of the sanctions or release some of our frozen assets in foreign banks."

The top diplomat said imposing sanctions on Iran while the diplomatic process is still underway could not be deemed as a sign of goodwill.

"Amid the talks, even some new sanctions have been imposed on legal and natural Iranian persons by the Biden administration,” he said. “This means his government is following in Trump's footsteps, so the public opinion believes that they are practically the same.”

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