By Parisa Hafezi
DUBAI, Feb 7 (Reuters) – Iran said on Monday the United States has to make a “political decision” regarding lifting sanctions on the Islamic Republic, as Tehran’s demand that they be lifted altogether to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers was non-negotiable.
After eight rounds of indirect talks between Tehran and Washington since April, differences remain over the speed and scope of the lifting of sanctions on Tehran, including Iran’s demand that the US guarantee that there will be no further punitive measures, and over how and when to reinstate restrictions on Iran’s atomic activity.
The talks broke down on January 28 when the main negotiators returned to their respective capitals for consultations. US special envoy for Iran Robert Malley said on Sunday he would return to Vienna soon, insisting the deal could still be revived.
“The issue of removing sanctions and Iran benefiting from such removal is Iran’s red line in the talks,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told a weekly news conference.
“If the United States comes back to Vienna with a political decision and a specific agenda … to remove the sanctions, then surely it will be possible to reach an agreement quickly”
Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani would return to Vienna on Tuesday, Khatibzadeh said.
The US government on Friday reintroduced the sanctions waiver on Iran to allow international nuclear cooperation projects, as indirect US-Iran talks on a 2015 international nuclear deal with Tehran enter the final stretch.
“Washington has decided to take a step that has no impact on Iran’s economic situation,” Khatibzadeh said, echoing the view of Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, who on Sunday described the US move as a “good but insufficient”.
Iran has gradually violated the nuclear limits of the nuclear pact since then-President Donald Trump in 2018 pulled the US out of the accord between Tehran and six major powers and reimposed crippling sanctions on Iran.
Iran insists on the immediate removal of all Trump-era sanctions in a verifiable process. Washington has said it would remove restrictions inconsistent with the 2015 pact if Iran resumes compliance with the deal, hinting it would leave others in place such as those imposed under counter-terrorism or human rights measures.
(Written by Parisa Hafezi; edited by Raissa Kasolowsky; translated by Tomás Cobos)