US responds to Iran's accusation on nuclear deal, says not delaying negotiation

Iran says exchange of prisoners with the US has nothing to do with the process of negotiations



Iran's delegates look at each other while US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken addresses the 2022 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference, in the United Nations General Assembly. — AP
Iran's delegates look at each other while US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken addresses the 2022 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference, in the United Nations General Assembly. — AP

By Reuters

Published: Mon 22 Aug 2022, 11:55 PM

Iran accused the United States on Monday of procrastinating in indirect talks aimed at reinstating Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal — a charge quickly denied by Washington — and said a US-Iranian prisoner swap was not linked to the talks.

After 16 months of fitful, indirect US-Iranian talks, with European Union officials shuttling between the sides, a senior EU official said on August 8 it had laid down a final offer and expected a response within a “very, very few weeks”.

Iran last week responded to the EU’s text with “additional views and considerations”, while calling on Washington to show flexibility to resolve three remaining issues.

The EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said on Monday he hoped the United States would respond positively as early as this week to the bloc’s proposal. Tehran had given a “reasonable” response to it, he said.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Nasser Kanaani, said Tehran wanted a sustainable deal that would preserve Tehran’s legitimate rights.

“The Americans are procrastinating and there is inaction from the European sides ... America and Europe need an agreement more than Iran,” Kanaani told a news conference.

State Department spokesman Ned Price denied that, telling reporters in Washington: “The notion that we have delayed this negotiation in any way is just not true.”

He said Washington was encouraged that Tehran seemed to have dropped demands such as the removal of its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from the US Foreign Terrorist Organization list.

“That’s part of the reason why a deal is closer now than it was two weeks ago. But the outcome of these ongoing discussions still remains uncertain as gaps do remain,” Price said, adding the United States was working as quickly as possible to provide its response.

The United States has repeatedly called on Tehran to release Iranian-Americans held in Iran on security charges. Iran has demanded several Iranians detained on charges linked to US sanctions to be freed.

“The exchange of prisoners with Washington is a separate issue and it has nothing to do with the process of negotiations to revive the 2015 pact,” Kanaani said, saying Tehran was ready to swap prisoners.

In 2018, then-President Donald Trump reneged on the deal reached before he took office, calling it too soft on Iran, and reimposed harsh US sanctions, prompting Tehran to begin breaching the pact’s nuclear curbs.

“We seek a good agreement which would ... be long-lasting,” Kanaani said. “We won’t be bitten twice.”

The 2015 agreement appeared near revival in March after 11 months of indirect US-Iran talks in Vienna.

But talks broke down over obstacles such as Tehran’s demand Washington provide guarantees that no future US president would abandon the deal.

Biden cannot provide such ironclad assurances because the deal is a political understanding rather than a legally binding treaty.

In Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid told French President Emmanuel Macron by telephone that Israel objected to a revived pact and would not be bound by it should one reached.

Israel has made veiled threats to take preemptive military action against Iran if diplomacy fails.


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