NEW YORK (Dispatches) -- Foreign Minister Hussein Amir-Abdollahian said on Saturday that when the Iranian government says it will return soon to talks on resuming compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, it means when Tehran has completed its review of the nuclear file.
On Friday, Amir-Abdollahian told reporters in New York that Iran would return to talks “very soon”.
In remarks broadcast on national TV channel IRINN on Saturday, Amir-Abdollahian said, “People keep asking how soon is soon. Does it mean days, weeks or months?”
“The difference between Iranian and Western ‘soon’ is a lot. To us, ‘soon’ means really in the first opportune time - when our reviews (of the nuclear file) have been completed. What is important is our determination to return to the talks, but those that are serious and guarantee the Iranian nation’s rights and interests,” Amir-Abdollahian said.
He was speaking to IRINN in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
On the other hand, he said: “I remind you of the West’s promises, such as repeatedly promising they would ‘soon’, ‘in a few months,’ implement the Instex” - a trade mechanism set up to barter humanitarian goods and food after the U.S. withdrawal from the deal.
Iran has said the channel with Europe has been ineffective.
Under the 2015 deal that Iran signed with world countries, it agreed to curb its nuclear program in return for the removal of sanctions. Washington abandoned that deal in 2018 and unilaterally reimposed financial sanctions.
Talks that began in April between Iran and the five other nations - Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia - to revive the deal have been stalled since June.
European diplomats have served as chief intermediaries between Washington and Tehran, which has refused to negotiate directly with U.S. officials.
On Friday, Amir-Abdollahian said Tehran will not accept a U.S.-desired “longer and stronger deal”.
Iran’s top diplomat made the comments to The New York Times, adding that the 2015 deal “has a lot of harsh critics in Iran, but we accepted it.”
U.S. President Joe Biden has claimed willingness to return to the previous deal but has also said that he would seek a stronger deal after the sides recommit to the previous accord.
Amir-Abdollahian rejected the second notion, while also saying that Iran would demand greater concessions to return to the deal than under its original terms.
He also said the United States is sending “contradictory messages” on reviving the deal.
The nuclear talks, brokered by the Europeans, seek the return of the U.S. to the 2015 agreement trashed by Trump.
Amir-Abdollahian said the government, which took power last month, believes that Biden “keeps carrying close to his heart the thick file of the Trump sanctions against Iran, even while seemingly pursuing negotiations.”
In a media briefing on Iran’s new foreign policy, Amir-Abdollahian was very skeptical about the Biden administration’s real intentions, stressing that actions are more important than “empty but beautiful words,” and so is “the comportment” and “behavior” of the United States toward Iran.
Iran’s top diplomat sharply criticized additional sanctions imposed by the Biden administration, as well as its refusal to give a green light for Iran to access billions of dollars of its money frozen in South Korea and Japanese banks to buy COVID-19 vaccines and medicine, and suddenly asking Britain to stop payment of 42-year-old debts.
Recalling that Iranians have a long, rich history and ancient civilization behind them, Amir-Abdollahian said “the United States of America must speak with a civilized tone and language with the people of Iran, not the language of threats, of pressure and sanctions.” The past 42 years, since the Iranian revolution, have “made clear the language of threats will not work against the great people of Iran.”
Amir-Abdollahian said the new government is reviewing the files of the nuclear negotiations in Vienna and will return to the talks because constructive negotiations can lead to “tangible, verifiable results.”
The foreign minister said Iran’s expectations are that all parties return to the Vienna negotiations and then fulfill their commitments under the 2015 agreement in a verifiable way.
Amir-Abdollahian stressed that the United States “should take action — constructive action, measurable action.”
“Have no doubt,” he said, “that if they wish to continue their previous language towards Iran and previous comportment towards Iran, the hands of the Islamic Republic of Iran will not remain tied.”