Iran rejects EU talks offer, says U.S. must first lift sanctions

01 March 2021 | 08:45 Code : 2000493 From the Other Media General category
Iran rejects EU talks offer, says U.S. must first lift sanctions

Spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry Saeed Khatibzadeh said Iran has received an offer from the EU foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, to start direct talks with Washington by attending a session of the nuclear deal’s Joint Commission.

Speaking at a weekly press conference on Monday, Khatibzadeh said Tehran received an offer from Borrell without a specific date to attend an informal session with the United States. 

The spokesman said Iran gave a clear response that the U.S. should recommit itself to UN Security Council Resolution 2231 and lift the sanctions that it imposed on Iran if it wants to rejoin the nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“This trajectory does not require negotiations and trade-offs,” Khatibzadeh asserted.

He pointed out that the U.S. still tries to maintain pressure on Iran and move forward with what the Trump administration initiated. 

“Unfortunately, it seems that the present U.S. administration, with a cognitive mistake and by using passive multilateralism, seeks to move down a path on which Trump failed to make progress for four years,” Khatibzadeh pointed out.

Earlier on Sunday, Khatibzadeh said in a statement that the time is not ripe for an unofficial meeting with the U.S. and the E3 proposed by Borrell considering the recent stances and moves by the U.S. and the three European countries.

“In view of the recent stances and measures taken by the United States and the three European countries, the Islamic Republic of Iran believes this is not a good time for holding an unofficial meeting on the accord as proposed by the European Union foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell,” the statement said. 

“There has been no change in the United States' stances and behavior, and the Biden administration has not only failed to abandon Trump's failed policy of maximum pressure, but has also failed to declare its commitment to the implementation of all its obligations under the JCPOA and the UN Security Council Resolution 2231,” it added.

All options for give-and-take were exhausted five years ago”

Khatibzadeh noted that the implementation of commitments by all parties to the JCPOA is not a matter of negotiation and give-and-take, and all options for give-and-take were exhausted five years ago.

“The path forward is quite clear: The U.S. must end its unlawful and unilateral sanctions and return to its JCPOA commitments. This issue neither needs negotiation, nor a resolution by the Board of Governors [of the International Atomic Energy Agency]," he continued.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran will respond to actions with action, and just as it will return to its JCPOA commitments with the removal of sanctions, it will also answer in kind to all hostile measures and behaviors,” Khatibzadeh pointed out.

He finally stressed that the Islamic Republic will continue its close bilateral and multilateral consultations with the current parties to the JCPOA as well as Mr. Borrell as the JCPOA coordinator.

“Censuring is not diplomacy”

Khatibzadeh also reiterated his position in a tweet on Sunday.

“Considering U.S./E3 positions & actions, time isn’t ripe for the proposed informal meeting. Remember: Trump failed to meet because of his ill-advised 'Max Failure'. With sanctions in place, same still applies. Censuring is NOT diplomacy. It doesn't work with Iran,” he tweeted.

The statement came a few hours after The Wall Street Journal reported that Iran rejected a European Union offer to hold direct nuclear talks with the U.S. in the coming days, risking renewed tension between Tehran and Western capitals.

According to the American newspaper, the EU floated the idea of holding talks in Europe that would include all of the remaining participants in the 2015 deal—Iran plus China, the UK, France, German, and Russia, as well as the U.S. The Biden administration immediately announced it would attend a meeting, with Washington’s envoy Rob Malley set to participate.

“EU officials had been trying to get an agreement on dates for a meeting and had floated the possibility of talks in Vienna or Brussels in the coming days. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said last Monday that he was 'reasonably optimistic’ talks would happen. However, Iran this weekend sent a note saying it wouldn’t attend a meeting in the current circumstances,” The Wall Street Journal wrote, adding that Iran proposed a different approach instead.

Citing Western diplomats, the newspaper claimed that “Tehran told the EU that it wants the EU to serve as a mediator, brokering a step-by-step process in which the U.S. and Iran would each agree to concessions before a possible meeting between Iranian officials and their U.S. counterparts.”

The U.S. and its European allies’ intention to put forward a resolution against Iran in this week meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s board of governors might have prompted Iran to reject the European offer of talks because accepting such an offer while the West is pushing for adopting a resolution against Iran would have been tantamount to succumbing to diplomatic pressures and bullying. 

Iran has recently struck a deal with the UN nuclear watchdog on how to continue cooperation in light of an Iranian nuclear law that came into force on February 23.

The nuclear law, officially called “Strategic Action to Lift Sanctions and Protect the Nation’s Rights,” stipulates that if the remaining parties to the JCPOA – Germany, France, China, Russia and the UK- failed to facilitate Iran’s oil exports and the return of Iranian oil revenues in two months, the Iranian government would be obligated to stop inspections beyond the IAEA safeguards, including the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol, which allows unannounced and intensive inspections of nuclear sites.

The IAEA chief paid a visit to Iran a few days before the law was implemented. He succeeded in securing a deal with Iran that would ensure the IAEA access to Iranian nuclear sites. 

Under the deal, Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) and the IAEA agreed to continue cooperation in a new way.

“In order for the Agency to continue its verification and monitoring activities, the AEOI and the IAEA agreed: 1. That Iran continues to implement fully and without limitation its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA as before. 2. To a temporary bilateral technical understanding, compatible with the Law, whereby the IAEA will continue with its necessary verification and monitoring activities for up to 3 months (as per technical annex). 3. To keep the technical understanding under regular review to ensure it continues to achieve its purposes,” according to a joint statement issued by the IAEA and the AEOI following the signing of the deal.

However, the deal did not prevent the U.S. and its European allies – namely France, Germany and the UK (E3)- from pushing for a new resolution against Iran at the meeting of the IAEA’s board of governors.

According to a Bloomberg report, U.S. diplomats circulated a draft resolution on Thursday which lists Washington’s grievances and orders Iran to fully cooperate with inspectors.

The proposed resolution would “underscore strong concern at the IAEA’s findings” and “express the board’s deepening concern with respect to Iran’s cooperation,” Bloomberg said, adding that this resolution would suggest that Iran could be providing incomplete information on its nuclear activities, something that has potentially serious consequences, including another referral to the United Nations Security Council.

As the IAEA’s board began a virtual meeting on Monday, Reuters reported that Britain, France and Germany are pressing ahead with a U.S.-backed plan for a resolution by the UN nuclear watchdog’s board criticizing Iran for curbing cooperation with the agency, despite Russian and Iranian warnings of serious consequences.

Source: Tehran Times