BRUSSELS (Dispatches) --
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell met Iran’s new Foreign Minister Hussein Amir-Abdollahian in the margins of the United Nations General Assembly, the EU said in a statement on Wednesday.
The meeting was scheduled in the absence of a ministerial meeting of the parties to the 2015 nuclear deal in New York during the annual UN. gathering of world leaders.
“The Iranian Foreign Minister assured of the willingness to resume negotiations at an early date,” the EU said in a statement. “High Representative Borrell ... underlined once again the great importance of a quick resumption of the Vienna talks.”
The remaining signatories of the nuclear deal have held six rounds of talks in Vienna to try and work out how the U.S. should return to compliance with the pact, which was abandoned by former U.S. President Donald Trump in 2018.
President Joe Biden has said the U.S. wants to return to the nuclear agreement officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), but his government has taken no measures to undo his predecessor’s wrongs.
Amir-Abdollahian said the administration of President Ebrahim Raisi is pragmatic within the framework of its principles and would seek a practical outcome through the Vienna format.
“Our criterion is the action of the other parties and not their words,” he said.
“Although Biden has verbally criticized Trump’s policies, he has in practice pursued the same policies toward Iran,” said Amir-Abdollahian, noting that the Biden administration’s policies toward Iran have been unconstructive so far.
“If the Americans think they will succeed by putting pressure on Iran, they are one hundred percent wrong,” he said. “The Iranian people have shown a strong response to pressure and threats.”
The chief Iranian diplomat called “unacceptable” the imposition of new sanctions by the U.S. despite occasionally uttering positive comments.
He also criticized the three European parties to the JCPOA—Britain, France and Germany—for
urging Iran to return to the talks instead of pressuring the U.S. as the party that violated the nuclear pact.
“All parties should know that the JCPOA needs to have tangible outcomes for Iran, and we should see the removal of the illegal sanctions in practice,” Amir-Abdollahian said. “All parties should prove their commitment to the JCPOA by taking firm steps.”
He also reiterated Iran’s readiness to halt its “remedial measures”, which Tehran took in response to the U.S. withdrawal, should the other parties begin to honor their commitments in a verifiable manner.
“It is not difficult for the Americans to live up to their commitments under the JCPOA and for the three European countries to end their inaction,” Amir-Abdollahian stated.
For his part, Borrell said the JCPOA’s success is very important not just for Iran and the other parties, but for the region and the entire world as well. The JCPOA’s failure is not good for any party, he stressed.
Borrell said Washington’s responsibility with regard to creating the current situation is clear, but at the same time, all sides should cooperate in order to reach an agreement acceptable to all parties.
Amir-Abdollahian also met with his German counterpart Heiko Maas and stressed the necessity of engaging in “result-oriented” talks.
“The Iranian people rightly expect that the economic benefits of the JCPOA, which have not been realized due to the negligence of the other parties, would be guaranteed this time,” he said.
The minister said the Americans need to understand that the Vienna talks are not intended for a new agreement, but rather, for making sure that the U.S. fully returns to the JCPOA and honors its commitments under the deal and under UN Security Council Resolution 2231.
“Unfortunately what we see in the policies of the current U.S. administration follows the Trump administration’s approach of imposing illegal sanctions,” he added.
Amir-Abdollahian also voiced the Raeisi administration’s seriousness in implementing the Iranian parliament’s December law on reducing Iran’s nuclear commitments under the JCPOA, saying Europe’s different pretexts for not fulfilling its obligations are unacceptable.
The other side should come to Vienna with necessary flexibility and understanding with regard to the new circumstances arising from the change of administration in Iran, he said.
In yet another bilateral meeting in New York, Amir-Abdollahian met his Austrian counterpart Alexander Schallenberg to discuss bilateral and international issues.
“Europe-Iran relations must not be subject to the U.S.’s unconstructive behavior and attitude toward Iran,” he said.
He said the Raisi administration is ready to improve the country’s relations with Austria to the highest level, particularly its monetary and economic relations.
In a meeting with Switzerland’s Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis, Amir-Abdollahian said the U.S. has no choice but to fully reconsider its approach and behavior toward Iran.
“Both the American and the European sides should show the necessary flexibility so that the upcoming talks would lead to tangible outcomes,” he said.
“Unfortunately, the Americans have not acted sincerely and do not do so in the nuclear talks,” he added.
Amir-Abdollahian also expressed Iran’s willingness to expand its relations with Switzerland to witness the presence of Swiss companies in economic projects in Iran.
Cassis also said Bern attaches great importance to its ties with Tehran and is ready to expand bilateral relations in various fields.