Iran says it is reviewing the US response to the European Union draft proposal aimed at reviving the 2015 nuclear deal but stresses the importance of “stronger guarantees” from the American side to clinch the deal.
Iran’s foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian made the remarks on Wednesday at a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow following their delegation-level talks.
“We have received the American side’s last text, and my colleagues are closely studying the response with the required [level of] rigor and speed,” he remarked, flanked by Lavrov.
The top Iranian diplomat, however, asserted that concerning [the issue of] guarantee, Tehran needs “stronger text and stronger guarantees” to wrap up negotiations underway since April last year to revive the deal and to lift crippling sanctions on Iran.
The United States unilaterally withdrew from the landmark deal in 2018, and reinstated crippling sanctions under the so-called “maximum pressure” campaign, despite Iran’s full compliance with the deal.
Since last year, the Austrian capital has hosted multiple rounds of talks between the signatories of the deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), aimed at examining the prospect of the deal’s revival and removal of illegal economic sanctions.
The negotiations have seen many interruptions due to Washington’s obdurate refusal to respect Iran’s red lines.
The European Union, which acts as the coordinator in indirect talks between Tehran and Washington, recently came up with a draft proposal to revive the deal. Tehran offered its response, which the bloc described as “reasonable.”
The United States took several weeks to offer its response to Iran’s comments, which is currently under review in Iran.
Amir-Abdollahian said Iran is serious about the conclusion of a lasting agreement, adding that an agreement would not be out of reach if the US acts “realistically” and the present text is reinforced.
“Our purpose is the conclusion of a good, strong, and lasting agreement,” he stressed, urging the opposite side to show realism and pragmatism.
For his part, Lavrov said Russia backed the revival of the nuclear deal and complete elimination of the sanctions.
Iranian foreign minister also hit out at the UN nuclear agency, urging it to stick to its “technical duty”, and drop the “political behavior” towards Iran.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has accused Iran of non-cooperation, a charge Tehran has vehemently rejected as “baseless”.
Iran has on several occasions reminded the agency of its technical duties, warning it against operating under the influence of the Israeli regime.
On Tuesday, the spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) described the IAEA demands as “excessive,” saying they cannot be implemented due to sanctions.
“We consider the IAEA’s demands excessive because their implementation is impossible due to sanctions,” Behrouz Kamalvandi said.
Meanwhile, the top Iranian diplomat noted that the country would inform the European Union’s coordinator of the talks about Iran’s position concerning the American response once “we have finalized our examination” of the text.
Amir-Abdollahian said he conveyed a message on behalf of “one of the European leaders” for Russia concerning the issue of Ukraine.
“Some ideas have been put forward towards the conclusion of the Ukraine war. We talked [with the Russian foreign minister] about humanitarian issues too,” he said.
Russia began a “special military operation” in Ukraine on February 24. In line with what Russian President Vladimir Putin has specified, the operation is aimed at “demilitarization” of the Donetsk and Lugansk republics in eastern Ukraine, which are collectively known as the Donbas region.
The two republics broke away from Ukraine in 2014 after refusing to recognize a Western-backed Ukrainian government that had overthrown a democratically-elected Russia-friendly administration.
Iran has often expressed its readiness to act as an honest broker in any talks aimed at bringing an end to the conflict.
The top Iranian diplomat also said the issue of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant and prisoners of war were discussed between the two sides on Wednesday.
He said the Islamic Republic is ready to cooperate with Russia in establishing security at the nuclear plant.
Lavrov said Iran was prepared to help solve the problems facing Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant and the areas that surrounded it.
Zaporizhzhia is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe and among the 10 largest in the world. Russian forces seized the plant soon after Moscow launched its military operation in the ex-Soviet country. Ukraine accuses Russia of storing heavy weapons in the plant. Moscow denies the allegation.
The plant has come under fire repeatedly in recent weeks. Both Ukraine and Russia accuse each other of targeting the facility, which on Thursday sparked fires in the ash pits of a nearby coal power station that disconnected the plant from the power grid.
Amir-Abdollahian said he also discussed the status of bilateral relations with Lavrov, including Iran’s commercial, economic, transit, defensive, and security relations with Russia.
“We are pleased that the countries’ relations are [progressing] in the correct direction,” the Iranian official said.
“We are prepared for the expansion of the economic cooperation using the available capacities,” he said, adding that the countries have ample capacity for the development of their bilateral ties.
The Iranian official also said a roadmap devising the path ahead of the countries’ strategic relations would be implemented “in the near future” following ratification by the nations’ respective parliaments.
Lavrov, for his part, said economic cooperation between the two countries amounted to $4 billion last year and is expected to increase next year.
He further expressed satisfaction with the way Russian and Iranian bilateral relations are developing, and reaching “a new qualitative level”, adding that the work on a comprehensive document between Russia and Iran is in its “final stage”.
The Russian foreign minister also announced that the Iranian and Russian payment systems of Shetab and Mir would be connected “in the near future,” saying the countries had discussed the prospect on the central bank governor level.
Source: Iranian media (edited by Al-Manar English Website)