TEHRAN (Dispatches) -- A senior Iranian diplomat says the Islamic Republic has had no contact with the administration of new U.S. President Joe Biden, stressing that any possible talks could only be held within the "right format” of a 2015 multilateral nuclear agreement signed between Tehran and major world powers.
"Currently, we are not interested in making any direct contact and we think that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is the right format, and [any possible] talks should be conducted in that framework,” Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said told Italy’s la Repubblica published on Saturday.
Iran, he said, has "realistic” demands from Biden’s administration, which are the lifting of sanctions by Washington and returning to the nuclear deal.
"I don’t see other alternatives. We have negotiated in good faith and implemented the JCPOA in good faith. It is now up to the new administration to correct the mistakes of their predecessors. The U.S. is the party that has abandoned the agreement: it is up to them to decide what to do,” he said.
To re-enter the agreement they must remove all the sanctions they have imposed on Iran, Araqchi said. "We are ready to fulfill all our commitments as per the JCPOA provided that the Americans live up to their obligations and lift sanctions.”
Araqchi touched on efforts by the European signatories to the nuclear deal – Britain, France and Germany – to include non-nuclear issues in the JCPOA, in what the German foreign minister has characterized as a "nuclear deal plus”.
"There will be no JCPOA plus, there will not be another agreement, there will not be new negotiations on the JCPOA,” Araqchi said.
He also rejected calls for inclusion of Iran’s missile power in any talks.
The Iranian diplomat said Tehran has no "particular stance” on the transfer of power in the U.S. as it is just waiting to see how the new president intends to correct former President Donald Trump’s wrong positions.
Trump unilaterally pulled Washington out of the JCPOA in May 2018.
After abandoning the deal, Washington reimposed the sanctions
lifted by the accord and launched a push to fully destroy the agreement by trying to dissuade the remaining signatories from staying in the agreement.
Under the pressure, the European co-signatories shirked from fulfilling their contractual obligations, prompting Tehran suspend parts of its own commitments under Article 26 and 36 of the JCPOA.
In an op-ed article published Friday by American magazine Foreign Affairs, Iranian Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif urged the new U.S. president to end his predecessor’s fruitless pressure policy, warning that the "window of opportunity would not be open” for the new White House team forever.
Elsewhere in his interview, Araqchi said the Persian Gulf’s security can be the subject of dialogue among regional countries without foreign interference, stressing, "The security of the region can be discussed collectively.”
Araqchi also pointed to good relations between Iran and Italy that have always been based on mutual respect.
"Italy has always been one of Iran’s top trading partners. If the sanctions are lifted, economic relations between our two countries will be able to resume.”
Even if the sanctions remain in place, Araqchi said, "the two countries will still have the possibility of creating mechanisms to strengthen their relations.”