Iran’s president said Monday the United States should lift the sanctions on his country to prove it is serious about restarting stalled nuclear talks in Vienna.
In an interview with state TV, Ebrahim Raisi said Iran is after “goal-oriented” talks with the West and said Iran “never left” the negotiation table.
“Lifting sanctions is an indication of seriousness of the other party,” he said.
Talks between Iran and European signatories of the 2015 nuclear deal, alongside Russia and China, have been stalled since June. Raisi's administration, which took office in August, has not fixed a date for resuming talks. Iran has been resisting calls for a quick resumption of the talks in Vienna. Instead, Iran wants to meet separately with the other parties to the deal in Brussels before returning to the table in Vienna.
As Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with the chief of the UN's atomic watchdog in Washington on Monday, the State Department said the Biden administration did not believe a preliminary meeting in Brussels was needed. Blinken and others have warned that the window for diplomacy is closing.
“To be clear, we do not think it is necessary," department spokesman Ned Price told reporters when asked about a meeting in Brussels. “We have been very clear that the destination we seek is Vienna not an intermediate step in Brussels.”
Raisi, however, said Iran "is serious in this issue, we should see seriousness in the other party,” too.
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The 2015 nuclear deal saw Tehran drastically limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. Iran has insisted its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes.
In 2018, then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the accord, raising tensions across the wider Middle East.
With the talks in Vienna now stalled, Iran has breached limits on its uranium enrichment set by the accord. It is now enriching small amounts of uranium at its closest-ever levels to weapons-grade purity and its stockpile continues to grow.