Iran Says Nuclear Deal Salvageable but Will Not Negotiate Forever

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Iran's President-elect Ebrahim Raisi during his first press conference in the Islamic republic's capital Tehran, yesterday.
Iran's President-elect Ebrahim Raisi during his first press conference in the Islamic republic's capital Tehran, yesterday.Credit: ATTA KENARE - AFP

Iran said on Saturday it believes a reinstatement of its 2015 nuclear deal with major world powers is possible but warned that Tehran "will not negotiate forever".

"Out of a steadfast commitment to salvage a deal that the U.S. tried to torpedo, Iran has been the most active party in Vienna, proposing most drafts," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said on Twitter, referring to talks aimed at reviving the nuclear deal.

Iran and the United States have been holding indirect talks on reviving the 2015 agreement between Tehran and six powers that imposed restrictions on Tehran's nuclear activities in exchange for lifting international sanctions.

Then U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew Washington from the agreement in 2018, but President Joe Biden has been seeking to revive it. Officials on all sides have said there are major issues to resolve before the deal can be reinstated.

"Still believe a deal is possible, if the U.S. decides to abandon Trump's failed legacy. Iran will not negotiate forever," Khatibzadeh tweeted.

The UN nuclear watchdog on Friday demanded an immediate reply from Iran on whether it would extend a monitoring agreement that expired overnight. An Iranian envoy responded that Tehran was under no obligation to provide an answer.

The Vienna talks, which began in April, are now in a pause that had been expected to last until early July, but failure to extend the monitoring accord could throw those negotiations into disarray.

 In the three days since the presidential election results in Iran were announced, the reactions from the Israeli government and the U.S. administration have served as a reminder of the significant gaps between the two countries regarding the Iranian issue.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett used the victory of Iranian hard-liner Ebrahim Raisi to pressure world powers to reconsider their intention of signing a new nuclear agreement with Tehran. 

The Biden administration, meanwhile, has taken a different, more cautious approach, insisting that diplomacy with Iran remains the best way to stop the country from developing nuclear weapons.

“Of all the people that [supreme religious leader Ali] Khamenei could have chosen – and there should be no doubt, it was not the public who chose but Khamenei – he chose the ‘executioner of Tehran,’” Bennett said at the beginning of his government’s first weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday.

Bennett called on world leaders to “come to their senses” and prevent a return to the 2015 nuclear agreement (aka the JCPOA). “It is perhaps the last signal to understand with whom they are doing business and what kind of regime they are choosing to strengthen,” he said, adding, “What is clear to all of us is that a regime of executioners must not possess weapons of mass destruction.”

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