The Jerusalem Post

US: Iran ‘deflecting blame’ for not returning to deal


Iran is trying to avoid responsibi­lity for not returning to its nuclear deal with world powers, the US State Department said on Saturday night.

The State Department responded to tweets from Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator and Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araghchi, in which he said the indirect talks with the US on a return to the Joint Comprehens­ive Plan of Action would be delayed.

The US and Iran have been engaged in indirect negotiatio­ns in Vienna since April to return to the JCPOA, the nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers reached in 2015. The sides participat­ed in six rounds of talks, the last of which ended last month, stopping the negotiatio­ns indefinite­ly.

The US, under then-president Donald Trump, left the deal in 2018, opting for a “maximum pressure” sanctions campaign, meant to deter the Islamic Republic. Current US President Joe Biden seeks to return to the agreement, which sets limitation­s on Iran’s nuclear activity in exchange for the gradual lifting of sanctions on the regime; Biden argues it is the best way to prevent Iran from attaining a nuclear weapon. Israel opposes the JCPOA on the grounds that its nuclear restrictio­ns expire in 2030, giving it an internatio­nal imprimatur to develop a nuclear

weapon, that does not stop Iran from its malign actions in the region, such as proxy warfare, nor does it address Iran’s ballistic missiles program.

In his remarks Saturday, Araghchi claimed Iran is undergoing “a democratic transfer of power” following last month’s presidenti­al election.

“Vienna talks must thus obviously await our new administra­tion,” Araghchi tweeted. “This is what every democracy demands.”

While Iran holds regular elections for president, the candidates must be approved by Iran’s Supreme Leader, who holds the power in Iran and is not subject to elections. In addition, Iranians do not have the basic rights characteri­stic of modern democracie­s, such

as free speech, or freedom of assembly.

Araghchi accused the US and UK of tying the return to the JCPOA to the status of their nationals held hostage in Iran.

“US and UK need to understand [the presidenti­al transition in Iran] and stop linking a humanitari­an exchange – ready to be implemente­d – with the JCPOA. Keeping such an exchange hostage to political aims achieves neither,” Araghchi wrote.

The Iranian negotiator claimed that 10 prisoners could be released the following day “if US and UK fulfill their part of the deal.”

US Special Envoy for Iran Rob Malley tweeted a statement from US State Department Spokesman Ned Price several hours later, calling Araghchi’s tweets “an outrageous effort to deflect blame for the current impasse on a potential mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA.”

“We stand ready to return to Vienna to complete work on a mutual return to the JCPOA once Iran has made the necessary decisions,” the statement reads.

As for the American hostages in Iran, the US said the remarks are “just another cruel effort to raise the hopes of their families.

“Araghchi speaks of us taking an agreement hostage when it is his government that has been unjustly detaining four innocent Americans for years,” the State Department added. “There is no agreed deal yet on the matter of the detainees. And if Iran were truly interested in making a humanitari­an gesture, it would simply release the detainees immediatel­y.”

The hostages are a top priority for the US, which is willing to continue talking about the matter even if negotiatio­ns in Vienna are on hold, the US stated.

The four US citizens known to be held in Iran are environmen­talist Morad Tahbaz and businessma­n Emad Shragi, as well as Siamak Namazki – the longest-held American, imprisoned since 2015 – and Baquer Namazi, 84, his father, who the regime lured to Iran to visit his son.

 ?? (Leonhard Foeger/Reuters) ?? THE US and Iran participat­ed in six rounds of indirect talks, the last of which ended last month, before stopping the negotiatio­ns indefinite­ly.
(Leonhard Foeger/Reuters) THE US and Iran participat­ed in six rounds of indirect talks, the last of which ended last month, before stopping the negotiatio­ns indefinite­ly.

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