Iranian president asks US to lift unilateral sanctions to show seriousness in Vienna talks

The talks in Vienna between Iran and the remaining signatories of the nuclear deal stopped after six rounds following the election of Ebrahim Raisi in June. Iran said that it wanted to review the outcome of the rounds held so far

October 19, 2021 by Peoples Dispatch
Iranian president on Vienna talks
Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi. (Photo: IRNA)

In a televised address on Monday, October 18, Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi asserted that a return to the nuclear deal should mean the end of all unilateral sanctions imposed by the US since it withdrew from the agreement in 2018. 

Raisi pointed out that lifting of sanctions would indicate the seriousness of the US about the talks in Vienna. He emphasized that Iran is serious and committed to the talks and would return to the table soon, saying that it “will never leave the negotiation table,” IRNA reported. 

The talks in Vienna between Iran and the remaining signatories of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or the Iran nuclear deal – France, the UK, Germany, Russia and China – have stopped since Raisi was elected president in June. Iran has claimed that it is reviewing the outcome of the six rounds of talks held so far and will return soon without conditions. 

Last week, the European Union’s head at the Vienna talks, Enrique Mora, visited Tehran. After meeting Iranian deputy foreign minister Ali Bagheri Kani, Mora told the press that the talks will continue in Brussels. However, these talks will not substitute the talks in Vienna, the Russian representative at Vienna clarified.

Later, the EU also went back on the claim and US State department spokesman said intermediate talks in Brussels were unnecessary.

The Joe Biden administration in the US has demanded a return to the talks as soon as possible. Last week, US secretary of state Antony Blinken addressed a joint press conference along with Israeli foreign minister Yair Lapid, where the latter said that Israel “reserves the right” to act against Iran. He also accused Iran of building a nuclear bomb. Iran has always denied that it has any intention to develop a bomb. 

Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, withdrew from the JCPOA under Israeli pressure in May 2018, claiming it to be the “worst deal ever.” Following the withdrawal, the Trump administration imposed a series of economic and political sanctions on Iran that have grievously impacted the country’s economy. Iran has since retaliated by rolling back its commitments under the deal and taking enrichment levels higher.

Raisi, like his predecessor Hasan Rouhani, maintains that all the steps taken by Iran following the sanctions are reversible provided the US lifts all its sanctions and returns to the deal. The Biden administration has refused to lift all sanctions despite expressing its desire to return to the deal. 

The talks in Vienna were initiated by the remaining signatories of the deal after Biden came to power in the US. Blinken said at the press conference with Lapid that Iran has not responded to the US calls for its resumption and warned that time is running out, claiming that provisions of the deal would be redundant if it is not resumed now.