Iran puts forward suggestions for returning to talks on nuclear deal but West ‘insists’ on tariffs

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi on Wednesday said that Iran had put forward its suggestions for starting the process of restoring the 2015 Iran nuclear deal to the other five members of the International Atomic Energy Agency, but these had so far been ignored by the West.

The P5+1 Group (the other members of the nuclear deal, plus Germany and Russia) had until Wednesday to decide on whether or not to return to the six-month phase that ended in October to determine if Iran was fulfilling the commitments under the agreement.

“We think [the other parties] need more time to consult with each other. But there is only one party who is unwilling to enter into consultation: The United States,” Mr. Araghchi told a news conference.

“Considering the U.S. position, we are planning to wait a little longer. The last contact I had with them was a phone call with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, which made our relations worse. If he can answer our proposal and send us a message on the basis of reciprocity and mutual respect, we can start,” he said.

Mr. Araghchi told reporters that Tehran was willing to engage in so-called “teaming up” with China and Russia to revive the deal, but that this would only happen on the basis of a return to full and on-time implementation of the 2015 nuclear agreement.

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However, he added, the United States had indicated that it wanted to reach a deal within two weeks, something that was unrealistic given the delay in sending a delegation to the other countries.

“My response to Pompeo was ‘Just listen. These negotiations take time and also if you want to do so, there should be some reciprocity and respect,’” he said.

Mr. Araghchi said that Iran had made proposals based on “synergy” and on guarantees that the other signatories, including Iran, would recognize Tehran’s right to develop peaceful nuclear energy in a balanced manner.

He said that the U.S. position was “unrealistic and also unreasonable.”

Speaking on Iran’s nuclear program, Mr. Araghchi said that the Tehran government did not intend to pursue a uranium enrichment capacity larger than it had under the 2015 nuclear deal, and the U.S. administration could not force Iran to abandon the accord.

The Trump administration announced last month that it would reimpose crippling economic sanctions on Iran, which suspended in the wake of the nuclear deal, as part of efforts to force Tehran to curb its controversial nuclear program.

The sanctions, which include secondary sanctions against firms and banks outside the agreement that trade with Iran or are otherwise involved in the country’s nuclear activities, are set to take effect in early January.

“Whether or not Iran feels the need to have a more significant enrichment program or even have a related reserve, it is a matter of our own decision and decision-making. The global market is out there and so the ability to make decisions for ourselves is not an issue. The issue is what are the sanctions being imposed on,” Mr. Araghchi said.

“These sanctions target the development of Iran’s industrial activities of conventional arms, ballistic missiles, and other activities and it’s unrealistic to think that Iran has to bear all these demands for the sake of the negotiations.”

The United States is also reimposing secondary sanctions that had been lifted under the 2015 accord.

Mr. Araghchi said Iran was not planning on shutting down a key pipeline through Iraq to Iran to transport refined oil products.

“We are very happy about the cooperation between Iraq and Iran. We have been in touch with the Iraqi government on the possible stoppage of the pipeline to Iran. They are not considering this at the moment,” he said.

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