Iran’s decision over talks based on US actions, not vague messages: Spokesman

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, Saeed Khatibzadeh, speaks during a news conference, on March 7, 2022. (Via IRNA)

Iran says the US's behavior would determine whether Tehran would hold "direct talks" with Washington over the revival of the 2015 agreement.

“We make decisions based on the behavior of the US and not on non-transparent messages,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told reporters on Monday when asked about Tehran's stance on having direct talks with the US.

Khatibzadeh stressed that the request for direct negotiations “would make sense only when we know the reason for that meeting”.

“To date, we did not observe any change in the behavior of the US and the maximum pressure [campaign] on Iran’s people has been ongoing,” the spokesman said.

The US unilaterally left the 2015 Iran deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2018, and re-stored the sanctions that had been lifted under the accord. Washington’s European allies in the deal—France, Germany, and the United Kingdom—have been toeing the sanctions line closely by ending their trade activities with Iran.

The Vienna talks began last April between Iran and the remaining parties to the JCPOA- Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China- on the assumption that the US, under the  Biden administration, is willing to repeal the so-called maximum pressure policy pursued by former president, Donald Trump, against Tehran.

Iran says it won’t settle for anything less than the removal of all US sanctions in a verifiable manner. It also wants guarantees that Washington would not abandon the agreement again.

Since the Vienna talks began, Iran has declined direct negotiations with the US over Washington's withdrawal from the JCPOA, its illegal sanctions against the country, and its refusal to remove the sanctions despite expressing willingness to rejoin the deal under a new administration.

Khatibzadeh also said: "Russia's approach has been constructive to date and we have gathered in Vienna to reach a collective agreement. We are waiting for them to give us more details if they have."

Commenting on reports of Russia’s withdrawal from the JCPOA that have been circulated on social media, Khatibzadeh noted that, “We don’t have reliable news on this issue, but China and Russia have so far acted responsibly.”

Asked about a prisoner swap between Iran and the US, the spokesman said the two sides have made progress in related talks, adding that the humanitarian issue could be resolved “if the American side fulfills its obligations this time, and does not backtrack on the eve of the implementation [of an agreed deal]”.

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