Iran Blames U.S. for Slow Pace of Nuclear Talks, Rejects Any Preconditions

'Iran has never accepted any preconditions by the United States,' Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman says after U.S. lead negotiator says nuclear deal unlikely if Iran does not release American hostages

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addressing a crowd via videoconference in the capital Tehran, on January 9.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addressing a crowd via videoconference in the capital Tehran, on January 9.Credit: HANDOUT - AFP

Iran blames the United States for the slow pace of indirect talks on reviving a 2015 nuclear deal, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said on Monday.

"The main reason behind the slow pace of the Vienna nuclear talks is the United States' lack of readiness," he said, while ruling out any U.S. preconditions, including the release of American prisoners held by Tehran.

"Iran has never accepted any preconditions by the United States... The U.S. official's comments on the release of U.S. prisoners in Iran is for domestic use," Khatibzadeh told a weekly news conference.

The lead U.S. nuclear negotiator told Reuters on Sunday the United States was unlikely to strike an agreement with Iran to revive the nuclear pact unless Tehran released four U.S. citizens Washington says it is holding hostage.

In recent years, Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards have arrested dozens of dual nationals and foreigners, mostly on espionage and security-related charges.

Rights groups have accused Iran of taking prisoners to gain diplomatic leverage, while Western powers have long demanded that Tehran free their citizens, who they say are political prisoners. Tehran denies holding people for political reasons.

Iran's state news agency IRNA said earlier on Monday that setting such preconditions would slow down indirect talks between Tehran and Washington to secure the deal.

The indirect talks between Iran and the United States on bringing both countries back into full compliance with the landmark 2015 nuclear deal are in their eighth round. Iran refuses to hold meetings with U.S. officials, meaning others shuttle between the two sides.

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