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Iran rejects prospect of meeting US at upcoming nuclear deal talks in Vienna

Iran rejects prospect of meeting US at upcoming nuclear deal talks in Vienna
Iran will not talk to the US at the upcoming nuclear deal talks in Vienna, its deputy FM has said, as Tehran believes a return to the agreement does not require negotiations but instead depends solely on sanctions being lifted.

Next week, the remaining participants of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), will get together for talks in Vienna.

However, the talks will not include any contact between the Iranian delegation and US diplomats, Iran’s Deputy FM Abbas Araqchi said on Friday following a virtual meeting of the JCPOA’s signatories.

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“The United States will not attend any meeting in which Iran is present, including the meeting of the joint commission [of the nuclear deal], and that is certain,” Araqchi said, signaling that Tehran is not seeking any contact with the US. Other parties of the JCPOA, however, may be seeking “to consult bilaterally or multilaterally with the United States,” describing such contacts as “their business.”

The Iranian delegation will not have any talks with the US delegation at any level.

Araqchi said Tehran sees no point in talking with the US, as Washington’s potential return to the JCPOA, as well as the fate of the whole deal, solely depends on the issue of sanctions. As soon as the US “sanctions are lifted and this is verified,” Iran would immediately return to compliance with all the JCPOA obligations it recently suspended, he explained.

The nuclear agreement has been in limbo since early 2018, when then-president Donald Trump walked away from the JCPOA, branding it a “horrible” deal and accusing Tehran of somehow violating its “spirit.” Iran’s compliance with the agreement, however, has been repeatedly confirmed by international observers.

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Since then, the US re-imposed old sanctions and slapped new ones on Tehran, effectively nullifying the effect of the whole deal, which envisioned a lifting of sanctions and other economic benefits for Tehran in exchange for strictly limiting its nuclear program. Since the US walked out, Iran has gradually ramped up its nuclear program-related activities, including uranium enrichment well beyond the JCPOA-imposed threshold.

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