Fri. Dec 3rd, 2021

Tehran, Iran – The United States must “accept reality” and agree to lift its sanctions against Iran during next week’s nuclear talks in Vienna, according to Tehran’s top negotiator.

Representatives of Iran and the other signatories of its 2015 nuclear agreement will be in Austria from November 29 to try to restore the joint comprehensive plan of action (JCPOA), which the US abandoned in 2018.

Iran, China, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and Germany will resume six rounds of talks that were halted in June to allow Iran’s new president, Ebrahim Raisi, to form its administration.

As before, the US will indirectly participate in negotiations that, if successful, will lift strict US sanctions against Iran, and bring Iran back to full compliance with the terms of the agreement.

Iran has previously said it is ready for a “good deal” in Vienna, but the US must accept responsibility for renouncing the JCPOA, lifting all sanctions imposed since 2018 at once, and guaranteeing that it will not renegotiate the agreement do not leave.

But the US has said it is prepared to lift sanctions that are “inconsistent” with the agreement, indicating that it wants to retain some of the human rights and “terrorism” sanctions imposed over the past three years. It also said the time to reach an agreement was running out as Iran’s nuclear program continued to progress.

The director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, is expected to meet for the first time on Tuesday Iran’s new foreign minister, Hossein Amirabdollahian, in Tehran.

Grossi is expected to discuss IAEA monitoring in Iran, which is limited as part of the country’s response to the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal, and in response to the assassination of a top nuclear scientist and several attacks on nuclear power sites. Iran blamed the attacks on Israel.

What follows is a Q&A with Ali Bagheri Kani, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, who will lead the Iranian negotiating team in the Austrian capital. In written answers to Al Jazeera, he discusses Iran’s position in the talks on sanctions and nuclear progress, the region, and what it expects from European signatories.


Al Jazeera: It appears that Iran and the US have taken conflicting positions ahead of the Vienna talks, especially in terms of scope and ways of lifting sanctions. Given the current situation, what is your assessment of the possibility of reaching a good agreement?

Ali Bagheri Kani: It is widely believed that the United States, by withdrawing from the JCPOA, blatantly violated the agreement and flagrantly violated UNSC Resolution 2231.

But, Iran, overcomes the so-called maximum pressure campaign, sits at the negotiating table with full readiness, capacity and total commitment to the 2015 agreement. That is why, while resorting to deception, Americans are trying to exploit the political and media environment in their own favor. But this is not to their advantage. They must accept reality and stick to all their obligations.

Al Jazeera: You recently said “we do not have nuclear negotiations” in Vienna as the terms of the JCPOA were previously agreed. Does this mean that Iran can reverse its steps to advance its nuclear program and limit IAEA inspections without the need for talks? What will happen to a working group set up during the previous rounds of discussions in Vienna to discuss nuclear issues?

Bagheri: Iran is legally pursuing its nuclear activities within the framework set out in paragraphs 26 and 36 of the JCPOA, the reason for which is fully explained in the text of the Nuclear Power Agreement. Until the offending and non-compliant party to the agreement demonstrates in practice its commitment to the JCPOA, there is no reason for Iran to relinquish its rights and claims guaranteed by the agreement. Everything is clear and there is nothing ambiguous about the nuclear deal to negotiate.

The US and the EU need to show that they have the political will to implement what they agreed to do in 2015. They need to overcome domestic considerations to resolve this.

Al Jazeera: Iran has repeatedly stressed that it will not discuss its missile program or regional influence during the Vienna talks. If an agreement is reached in Vienna, will Iran then be prepared to discuss these issues?

Bagheri: Countries of the region are the ones who have to make decisions about the issues of the region. Any interference from outside the region will not benefit any party. The experience of foreign intervention from outside the region in Iraq and Afghanistan indicates that murder, genocide, the destruction of infrastructure, the spread of terrorism as well as the cultivation of drugs and trafficking in the main outcome of intervention and manipulation by foreign forces during the past was. two decades. It is their presence and interference that hinders constructive dialogue.

Al Jazeera: If the talks in Vienna do not yield results, what are Iran’s alternative plans to counter the sanctions and to deal with Western powers? How do you think this will affect the future of the region?

Bagheri: Dependence on domestic capabilities and capacity has been a key to Iran’s success over the past four decades. Experience has shown that independence would be more productive and fruitful than anything else in the sophisticated process of political, economic and even security and military developments. We have come a long way and we are a patient people.

Al Jazeera: What will Iran expect from European powers in the Vienna talks? Are they also expected to make any guarantees about their full future commitment?

Bagheri: Europeans must demonstrate their compliance with the JCPOA in action and not words, and put an end to non-compliance and the bankruptcy policy of maximum pressure. Many Iranians wonder why the Europeans are at the negotiating table when they can not make decisions independently of Washington.

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