Iran official: No stronger, longer deal with US
Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiyee said late Tuesday that the country has no plan to hold talks with the US beyond the nuclear deal and removal of sanctions, Iran's Fars News Agency reported.
The US, Iran and the world powers that were part of the 2015 nuclear, deal known as the JCPOA, start a fifth round of negotiations, which continue on Wednesday, to return to the deal.
Rabiyee seemed to be rejecting the Biden administration's repeated statements that they want to return to the deal as a first step toward a "follow-on" negotiation to make the deal "stronger and longer."
This terminology is usually interpreted to refer to extending the JCPOA's nuclear restrictions on Iran beyond 2030, placing limits on its ballistic missile program and addressing its aggressive behavior in the region - all viewed as holes in the original 2015 version of the deal.
“At present, there is no ground or need for talks between Iran and the US beyond the nuclear deal, nor do we have any plan for this type of negotiations. But the US has failed in this test in recent years, and the imposition of unilateral and illegal sanctions – and refusal to return to the nuclear deal to date – have shown that it cannot be a creditable party to continue talks,” Rabiyee said at a press conference.
"No talks between Iran and the US outside the framework of the nuclear deal – and outside the goal of full revival of the nuclear deal and the return of all countries to their undertakings based on the agreement – are relevant," he said.
“We strongly ask the US government to speed up the process of reviving the nuclear deal. Each day of delay in this process further complicates the resolution of the dispute politically by raising the wall of mistrust,” Rabiyee said.
The spokesman's statements are significant because they raise alarms which Israel has sounded that once America returns to the JCPOA, including lifting sanctions, Biden will have no leverage to get the Islamic Republic to fix the deal's holes.
Washington has leaked that they would use a return to the JCPOA to start a 12 to 18 months negotiation process to fix the deal's holes and that it would be ready to snap back sanctions at the end of that term if no deal is reached.
Jerusalem has viewed this as an empty threat since a return to the deal will remove the Iran nuclear issue from the world's agenda and make it difficult for Biden to "rock the boat" if Tehran continues to technically comply with the deal, holes and all.
Also, late Tuesday, Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia's permanent representative to international organizations in Vienna, tweeted: "The Joint Commission opened today the fifth and probably final round of the Vienna talks on restoration of the #JCPOA. The participants expressed readiness to do their best to resolve the remaining outstanding issues and to complete negotiations successfully as soon as possible."
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi also expressed hope on Tuesday for progress on the Iran nuclear deal, saying that the agreement can be restored, in remarks at a virtual meeting of the Munich Security Conference.
Despite those statements, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Abbas Aragchi said Tuesday that “serious and important issues still need to be resolved."
Recent actions by Iran suggest that it wanted to drag out negotiations either at least until Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi became the likely next president in the June 18 race – if the Guardian Council would have disqualified anyone who could beat him, making Raisi's election already seem inevitable – or until after Raisi is actually elected.
This could allow Raisi and the hardline camp to claim credit or at least reduce the chance that competing Iranian camps could use a new deal to rally electoral support.
The latest statement by Rabiyee also suggests that Tehran is weary of signing the deal in a way that conveys weakness regarding Washington's future follow-on negotiation plans.