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Iran says never left negotiating table, always ready to strike deal on JCPOA

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kan'ani

Iran has never left the negotiation table and has shown seriousness to reach a conclusion on reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, the Foreign Ministry spokesman says.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Nasser Kan’ani said Iran has never abandoned diplomatic efforts to remove the cruel sanctions that were slapped on the country after the US withdrew from the nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“Iran’s government has never left the negotiation table and has shown its readiness to conduct serious and substantive negotiations in order to reach a conclusion,” he said.

The remarks came a day after Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said there is nothing wrong with reaching a deal if Iran’s nuclear infrastructure remains untouched.

Ayatollah Khamenei, however, made clear that Iran does not trust the West, which has “reneged on its promises many times and has proven to be untrustworthy.”

Like the Leader, Kan’ani also noted that Iran will continue to rely primarily on trying to neutralize sanctions as it does not trust the West, and at the same time, pursue negotiations to have them removed altogether.

“We have clear, principled views about the JCPOA and nuclear negotiations,” he said.

“While Iran has put the policy of neutralizing sanctions at the top of its agenda by relying on its internal capacities and expanding its relations with neighbors and friendly countries, it has never stopped the diplomatic processes with the aim of removing the cruel sanctions,” he added.

Multilateral diplomatic efforts to revive the JCPOA have been stalled since last August, with Iran blaming the United States for failing to guarantee that it will not leave the deal again.

The US withdrew from the JCPOA in May 2018 under former US president Donald Trump, who, in ditching the deal, began to impose “maximum pressure” sanctions against Iran.

Iran rejects claims on interim deal

Also in his remarks, the spokesman confirmed the exchange of messages between Iran and the US through the mediation of Oman.

“We welcomed the mediation proposal put forward by senior Omani officials several weeks ago, and exchanged messages with the opposite side, with the aim of activating the sanctions removal talks,” he said.

“The exchange of messages continues and the diplomatic apparatus uses all capacities within the framework of Iran's principled policies to secure national interests. We used Oman's capacity and assistance as a friendly country.”

Kan’ani further noted that the Muscat talks were not secret, emphasizing that Iran will not miss any opportunity to uphold its national interests while considering the country’s red lines.

On Friday, the US-based news website Axios reported that American and Iranian officials had held indirect talks in Oman last month with Omani officials shuttling between their separate rooms to deliver messages.

The report came one day after the Middle East Eye news portal claimed Iran and the United States “are nearing a temporary deal that would swap some sanctions relief for reducing Iranian uranium enrichment activities.”

Kan’ani said media speculations about an interim agreement and similar deal to replace the JCPOA cannot be confirmed, adding that the JCPOA is the basis of negotiations on the lifting of sanctions.

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