Call for ‘Political Statement’ by US Congress on Commitment to JCPOA

The foreign minister said public opinion in Iran cannot accept as a guarantee the words of a head of state, let alone the US, due to the withdrawal of Americans from the JCPOA
Call for ‘Political Statement’ by US Congress on Commitment to JCPOA
Call for ‘Political Statement’ by US Congress on Commitment to JCPOA

The top Iranian diplomat proposed that the US Congress makes a “political statement” of its commitment to a nuclear accord with Tehran as talks in Vienna to revive the deal reach a critical juncture.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said Washington had failed to address Iran’s demand for guarantees that no party is able to abandon the deal, as the US did under former president Donald Trump in 2018. Tehran also wants all sanctions imposed by Trump to be lifted.
“As a matter of principle, public opinion in Iran cannot accept as a guarantee the words of a head of state, let alone the United States, due to the withdrawal of Americans from the JCPOA,” Amir-Abdollahian said, using the acronym for the accord, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
American experts say it is virtually impossible for the Biden administration to provide the legal assurances Tehran demands. But Amir-Abdollahian said he had told Iran’s negotiators to propose to Western parties that “at least their parliaments or parliament speakers, including the US Congress, can declare in the form of a political statement their commitment to the agreement and return to the JCPOA implementation.”
US President Joe Biden wants to revive the 2015 deal, under which Iran agreed to curb its nuclear activity in return for the easing of sanctions. But while indirect talks between Washington and Tehran are taking place in Vienna, US and European officials have repeatedly said that—given the nuclear gains Iran has made since 2019—time is running out to save the accord.
Biden said the US would return to the deal if Iran agreed to reverse the advances it had made to its nuclear program over the past three years.



Lack of Initiative 

Amir-Abdollahian said, “Iran’s commitments are as clear as a mathematical formula. It is absolutely clear what we are supposed to do and how these measures will be verified through the IAEA [the UN nuclear watchdog]. Therefore the other side can have no concern; but we remain concerned primarily about the guarantees [that the US would not withdraw].”
Expressing Tehran’s frustrations with Washington’s position as weeks of talks in Vienna appear at risk of stalling, Amir-Abdollahian said: “We are facing problems during this period because the other party lacks a serious initiative.”
Iranian analysts say the government of President Ebrahim Raisi can only agree to revive the accord if it can make the case that it is an improved version of the 2015 deal.
Many conservatives criticized former president Hassan Rouhani for accepting what they deemed to be weak terms when his government signed the accord with the Obama administration, the UK, France, Germany, Russia and China.
Shortly after the talks resumed late last year—after a five-month hiatus following Raisi’s election—US and European officials accused his negotiating team of reneging on previous compromises agreed by Rouhani’s centrist government.
Diplomats and analysts say the EU-brokered negotiations had been more constructive in recent weeks. A senior US official said last month that the negotiations in January “were among the most intensive,” adding that “we made progress narrowing down the list of differences to just the key priorities on all sides.” But the official warned that “we only have a handful of weeks left to get a deal” because of Iran’s nuclear advances.
The other crucial issue for Iran is the scale of sanctions relief any agreement would provide. Amir-Abdollahian said that Iran wanted the negotiations to lead to the “total lifting” of sanctions. The challenge, however, was that the Biden administration was only willing to remove the economic sanctions authorized by Trump, he said.
“This is not all we are looking for. That Trump unilaterally and unjustly imposed sanctions on real and legal entities in Iran under some allegations as Iran’s missile program, regional issues or human rights is not acceptable,” Amir-Abdollahian said. “This is also one of the challenges which remains on the negotiating table in Vienna.”



Need for Tangible Steps 

Amir-Abdollahian said US officials had sent “many messages” to have direct talks with Iran, but ruled out any such move. “Our last response to Americans and intermediaries was: any direct dialogue, contact and negotiation with the US would have very huge costs for my government,” the foreign minister said. “We are not ready to enter into the process of direct talks with the US if we do not have a clear and promising outlook to reach a good agreement with sustainable guarantees in front of us.”
He added that Tehran had indicated to the US that if Washington’s “intentions are genuine, you should take some practical and tangible steps on the ground before any direct talks and contacts can take place”. This could include unfreezing billions of dollars of Iranian petrodollars stuck in foreign central banks because of Trump’s sanctions or a presidential executive order to lift some of the sanctions, he said.
Despite Iranian leaders hardening their language in recent days, Amir-Abdollahian said that in “general, we are optimistic.” “We also welcome a good deal in the shortest time however this deal must uphold the rights of the Iranian people,” he said.

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