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Iran's 'neighborly policy' not tied to JCPOA, US permission, says ministry

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kan'ani addresses weekly press briefing on July 20. (File photo by IRIB)

Iran’s foreign ministry says the country’s “neighborly policy” is not tied to the revival of the 2015 nuclear agreement or permission from the United States, in response to statements made by US officials. 

The ministry spokesperson, Nasser Kan'ani, in a Twitter post on Friday blasted Washington for attempting to create a “false dichotomy” between the nuclear deal, officially known as the joint comprehensive plan of action JCPOA), and Iran’s “good ties” with its neighbors, including Russia.

He said it “does not hide the fact that indecision of the unfaithful US is the main hurdle for a deal,” referring to the ongoing talks to revive the landmark accord.

The tweet came days after Tehran hosted Russian President Vladimir Putin for bilateral and multilateral talks, which was the Russian leader’s first visit outside the former Soviet Republic since the Ukraine war began in late February.

During the whirlwind visit, Putin held separate meetings with the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, and President Ebrahim Raeisi, discussing a wide range of bilateral, regional, and international issues.

Putin’s visit to Iran raised eyebrows in Washington and other Western capitals, as the US-led NATO military alliance has been strenuously trying to isolate Moscow over its military operation in Ukraine.

The visit also came after US President Joe Biden’s maiden West Asia tour, which took him to the occupied Palestinian territories and Saudi Arabia, where he openly indulged in anti-Iran rhetoric, provoking sharp reactions from Iran.

Commenting on Putin’s visit to Iran, the US special envoy for Iran, Robert Malley, in an interview with CNN on Tuesday said Iran "can opt for a position of relative dependency on Russia ... or it can choose to come back into the deal that’s been negotiated."

Malley’s remarks aimed to create a false narrative of Iran’s dependence on Russia while giving Tehran the choice of going with Russia or the United States.

US State Department spokesperson Ned Price on Thursday also alluded to Putin’s Iran visit and the ongoing talks in Doha to salvage the 2015 deal.

He said "a deal has been on the table for months" but it is Tehran that has not made a decision.

Pertinently, it was former US President Donald Trump who unilaterally abandoned the deal in May 2018 and reinstated crippling economic sanctions under the so-called ‘maximum pressure’ policy.

Despite Iran’s strategic patience for one year, the European signatories to the deal failed to take measures to preserve and protect the deal, siding with the US.

The efforts to revive the deal, underway since last April, have been impeded by the indecisiveness of Washington, as repeatedly noted by senior Iranian officials, including President Ebrahim Raeisi.

Iran and the US concluded two days of indirect talks, mediated by the European Union, in the Qatari capital of Doha, late last month in an attempt to break the stalemate in reviving the JCPOA.

At the end of the talks, Iran and the EU said they would keep in touch “about the continuation of the route and the next stage of the talks.”

The talks in Doha followed seven rounds of negotiations in the Austrian capital of Vienna between Iran and the five remaining parties to the JCPOA since April last year.

Tehran says it seeks a "strong and long-lasting" agreement that also provides guarantees that Iran could use all the economic benefits of the deal.

“Our demand is not excessive and we are on the path of acquiring the guarantees. The US should commit that the Islamic Republic of Iran will receive all the benefits of the 2015 deal,” Iran's foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said in early July in a joint press conference with Qatari counterpart Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani.

“This is what the American side has failed to give assurances about its realization.”

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