Washington sets precondition for returning to JCPOA

TEHRAN, Jan. 24 (MNA) – US Special Envoy for Iran’s Affairs Robert Malley has set a precondition for Washington's return to the JCPOA despite the fact that the US violated the deal by withdrawing from it in 2018.

Despite the fact that the United States is recognized as a party that violated the nuclear deal between Iran and P5+1 due to its unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA, the top US negotiator in the Vienna talks Robert Malley in an interview with Reuters sets a precondition for Iran.

Iranian officials have repeatedly stated that the United States has been a party to the deal that left it despite Tehran's adherence to the JCPOA and should therefore be the first party to take steps to comply with its obligations under the agreement to return to the JCPOA.

The United States is unlikely to strike an agreement with Iran to save the 2015 Iran nuclear deal unless Tehran releases four US citizens who are prisoned in Iran, Malley said in an interview with Reuters.

The top US negotiator has made the remarks while earlier he has said that the issue of the release of dual nationals detained in Iran is separate from the nuclear talks. However, in this new interview, he said that the release of these Iranian-Americans is a precondition for a nuclear deal. "They're separate and we're pursuing both of them. But I will say it is very hard for us to imagine getting back into the nuclear deal while four innocent Americans are being held hostage by Iran."

"So even as we're conducting talks with Iran indirectly on the nuclear file we are conducting, again indirectly, discussions with them to ensure the release of our hostages," he said.

Asked if Iran and the United States might negotiate directly, Malley said, "We've heard nothing to that effect. We'd welcome it."

The 2015 deal, more formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was signed by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — the US, the UK, China, Russia, and France — plus Germany and the EU. Despite the International Atomic Energy Agency's acknowledgement of Iran's adherence to all of its obligations, the US government unilaterally withdrew from the agreement in May 2018.

The US government has imposed sanctions under various pretexts in line with its hostile goals against Iran and the advancement of its economic war against Iran.

Amid the indifference of the JCPOA parties toward continued US violations of the JCPOA, in December 2020, the Iranian Parliament passed the Law on "Strategic Action Plan to Counter Sanctions and Protect Rights of the People" that prompted the Iranian administration to restrict the IAEA’s inspections and accelerate the development of the country’s nuclear program beyond the limits set by the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement.

Iran has also increased the level of uranium enrichment beyond the level allowed under the JCPOA in accordance with the accord itself.

The current US administration has not yet fulfilled the promises Joe Biden made during his presidential elections campaigns to undo Trump's actions and return to the deal. In the meantime, Tehran has also stressed that the Biden administration's return to the agreement without lifting the sanctions is not important at all. 

Iran says the US sanctions need to be removed in a verifiable manner. It also says Washington should provide guarantees that it will not pull out again.

The eighth round of talks on the removal of anti-Iranian sanctions began in Austria capital of Vienna on December 27 and the negotiators are busy turning ideas into words and sentences.

During the previous round of the talks, the first under Iran’s new President Ebrahim Raeisi, Iran presented new proposals at the negotiating table to help the talks move forward and later criticized the European signatories of the JCPOA for failing to follow suit and remaining passive.

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