VIENNA (Dispatches) – Iran said on Wednesday the only path for the United States to rejoin the 2015 Iran nuclear deal is full compliance and removal of all sanctions.
"The only U.S. ‘path back’ to the Deal is: full compliance & effective removal of ALL imposed, re-imposed & re-labeled sanctions,” Foreign Ministry Saeed Khatibzadeh said in a post on his official Twitter page.
"Only after that, we’ll stop our remedial measures,” he added, pointing to the countermeasures taken by Iran one year after the U.S. in May 2018 unilaterally left the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and reimposed the sanctions that had been removed as part of the agreement.
Khatibzadeh pointed out that unlike the U.S., Iran still remains a party to the JCPOA, stressing that certain "media spinning can’t change” this fact.
The tweet came after U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price in a press briefing rejected what he called Tehran’s position of "maximalist demands.”
"I think what we can essentially rule out are the maximalist demands that the United States do everything first and only in turn would Iran then act, I don’t think anyone is under the impression that that would be a viable proposal,” he said.
In addition to reimposition of sanctions, the administration of former U.S. president Donald Trump also imposed fresh sanctions against Tehran in its last days in office.
Joe Biden, who was vice president when the JCPOA was clinched, hit out at Trump for leaving the accord and expressed a willingness to return his country to the JCPOA both during his presidential campaign and after he took office on January 20.
However, his administration has sent mixed signals on how the U.S. would resume its obligations regarding the deal.
Iran says, as the party that has withdrawn from the JCPOA, the U.S. should take the first step by removing all the sanctions before Tehran would reverse its remedial measures.
Iranian officials also emphasize that Tehran will need enough time to verify the termination of the sanctions, and that it cannot be done within "a short time.”
Khatibzadeh told Press TV on Tuesday that the U.S. has to return to compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal by removing its anti-Iran sanctions all at once, asserting that the Islamic Republic will accept no "step-for-step” approach in this regard.
The spokesman said Iran’s position was "crystal clear,” adding, "We have just one step and that is the removal of all the sanctions imposed.”
He also pointed to the talks between Iran and the remaining parties to the JCPOA -- the UK, France, Russia and China plus Germany – over the future of the agreement and said the talks held so far have been focused on how the parties attending the Commission to the JCPOA "could make sure that the US will get back to full compliance and effectively remove all imposed, re-imposed or re-labeled sanctions after it ceased its participation in the JCPOA.”
A US delegation headed by the administration’s special envoy for Iran, Rob Malley, was also in the Austrian capital, Vienna, where the talks were held, but it was not attending the discussions.
Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi had said Iran and the U.S. will have no direct or indirect talks in Vienna.
A senior Iranian official also told Press TV that the country will not accept any division of the sanctions imposed by the United States on Iran into those that had been removed under the 2015 nuclear deal and the ones unrelated to the nuclear deal.
"Iran will not accept a division of the Trump-era sanctions into JCPOA-related ones and those unrelated to the JCPOA,” the official said.
"From Iran’s viewpoint, all American sanctions — including the Obama-era sanctions, the sanctions restored by Trump and the additional sanctions in the Trump-era labeled as non-nuclear — must be terminated,” the official added.
"Iran does not accept and recognize negotiations based on a division of the sanctions,” the official emphasized. "Iran’s condition for returning to its JCPOA commitments is the lasting removal of all the entire sanctions.”
The official said America and Europe must guarantee that the sanctions will not be restored on Iran again after their removal.
The official further emphasized that Iran will need enough time to verify the termination of the sanctions, and that it cannot be done within "a short time.”
Araqchi, who heads the Iranian delegation to the Vienna talks, warned Wednesday that Tehran will abandon the discussions if the other negotiators waste time or seek goals other than reviving the nuclear deal.
He told Nour News that the Vienna talks focus on technical and legal issues regarding the implementation of the JCPOA, first by the United States and then Iran.
"These negotiations are not even about the JCPOA itself, let alone an agreement beyond the JCPOA,” he added.
"To us, it does not matter what aspirations our opposite sides have about the future of the negotiations. The position of the Islamic Republic of Iran is completely clear and we will not have any talks on other issues.”
During the Vienna talks, Iran and the remaining signatories to the JCPOA agreed to form expert-level working groups to discuss the sanctions Washington might remove and the nuclear curbs Tehran might observe as they try to resurrect the nuclear accord.
Araqchi said that the working groups will work until Friday, after which they will report their conclusions to the JCPOA Joint Commission.
"If we see that the negotiating parties are seeking to waste time or pursuing other goals, we will stop the negotiations at the current level,” he underlined.
"It is worth mentioning that we have no subject such as a step-by-step implementation of commitments on the agenda. All the required measures will be taken in one step.”