Iran welcomes US sanctions relief, but says ‘not enough’

Iranian foreign minister demands ‘guarantees’ from the US for the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal with major powers.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian speaking
Iran has accused the US of violating the 2015 nuclear deal even before Trump walked out of it [File: Atta Kanare/AFP]

Iran’s foreign minister has said the US decision to restore sanctions waiver on the civil nuclear programme was “good but not enough” as indirect talks between Tehran and Washington to revive the 2015 nuclear deal entered the final stretch.

The sanctions relief, which allowed Russian, Chinese and European companies to carry out non-proliferation work at Iranian nuclear sites, was rescinded by the Trump administration in May 2020, two years after the US walked out of the landmark deal.

“The lifting of some sanctions can, in the true sense of the word, translate into their goodwill. Americans talk about it, but it should be known that what happens on paper is good but not enough,” Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said, quoted by ISNA news agency.

Amirabdollahian reiterated that one of the “main issues” in the nuclear talks is obtaining guarantees that the US will not withdraw from the 2015 deal again.

“We seek and demand guarantees in the political, legal and economic sectors,” he said, adding that “agreements have been reached in some areas”.

The US State Department said on Friday it was waiving sanctions on Iran’s civil nuclear programme in a technical step necessary to return to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, as the nuclear deal is officially known.

The US decision comes as US negotiators return to Vienna for what could be a make-or-break session.

The two countries have held eight rounds of indirect talks in Vienna since April aimed at reinstating the pact with major powers – the US, China, Russia, France, Germany and the United Kingdom – which lifted sanctions against Tehran in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear programme.

After Trump pulled the US out of the deal and reimposed harsh sanctions, Iran gradually started violating the pact’s nuclear curbs. Tehran insists its nuclear programme is purely for peaceful purposes.

Scrapped deal

The waivers, in the short term, will exempt foreign countries and companies that work in Iran’s civilian nuclear sector from American penalties.

Iran has accused the US of violating the 2015 nuclear deal even before Trump walked out of it. It has demanded the removal of all sanctions promised under the deal before it returns to nuclear compliance.

“Goodwill, in our viewpoint, means that something tangible happens on the ground,” Amirabdollahian said.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh on Saturday also called the US sanctions relief insufficient, saying Tehran expects the lifting of sanctions outlined under the nuclear deal.

“Everyone knows that is not sufficient,” Khatibzadeh was quoted as saying by the Iranian Jamaran news website. “Indeed, the Islamic Republic of Iran is waiting for the US to implement its duties and commitments according to the nuclear deal dimensions.”

Source: News Agencies