Lift sanctions or no return to nuclear deal, Iran says

Iran has warned that there is no way to revive the 2015 nuclear deal unless all sanctions on Tehran are lifted, as talks begin in Vienna in an attempt to restore the agreement.

Iran has warned that there is no way to revive the 2015 nuclear deal unless all sanctions on Tehran are lifted, as talks begin in Vienna in an attempt to restore the agreement.

Iranian representatives gathered in Vienna on Monday with those from China, France, Germany, Russia, and the UK to discuss reviving the 2015 nuclear deal abandoned by the Trump administration in 2018 – but hopes for any major breakthrough looked slim.

In a statement before talks started, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian laid out requirements that must be met if there is to be any attempt at salvaging the agreement which Washington abruptly abandoned three years ago.

The return of the US to the nuclear deal would be meaningless without guarantees to prevent the recurrence of the bitter experience of the past.

“Despite the formation of a new government in the United States, not only have the illegal and unilateral sanctions remained in place, but the policy of imposing sanctions on Iran has continued to exist,” Amir-Abdollahian said, adding that Iran was acting “in good faith.”

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US issues veiled threat over Iran’s nuclear program

He questioned whether President Joe Biden’s administration “is truly determined” to implement its obligations and prepared to “abandon the past failed policies” of the previous administration.

The US envoy, Robert Malley, has previously condemned Iran for attempting to “build more leverage and then come back and say they want something better” during the negotiations, warning that their tactic “simply won’t work.”

Malley warned Tehran that, should the talks collapse, the US is prepared to increase pressure on the country to deter an increase in nuclear activity. Since 2018, Iran has enriched uranium to levels which breached restrictions imposed on it by the JCPOA deal.

Russia’s permanent representative at the negotiations, Mikhail Ulyanov, struck a more positive tone on Monday, saying he is “cautiously optimistic” a deal can be reached, but he acknowledged Moscow is “fully aware of all the problems” negotiators face.

Meanwhile, UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss declared at a press briefing that this round of talks is the “last opportunity” for Iran to agree to a nuclear deal. 

Not ruling anything out should Iran refuse to sign up to a new agreement, Truss said the UK is committed to working “flat out to prevent the Iranian regime from gaining nuclear weapons.”

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