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Foreign minister vows Iran to resume nuclear talks soon

by EDITH M. LEDERER THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | September 25, 2021 at 4:57 a.m.
In this photo provided by the United Nations, United Nations General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid of Maldives, right, meets with Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian, during 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021, at UN headquarters. (United Nations/Evan Schneider via AP)

UNITED NATIONS -- Iran's new foreign minister said Friday the country will return to nuclear negotiations "very soon," but accused the Biden administration of sending contradictory messages -- saying it wants to rejoin the 2015 nuclear deal while slapping new sanctions on Tehran and not taking "an iota of positive action."

Hossain Amir Abdollah said the government, which took power last month, believes that President Joe Biden "keeps carrying close to his heart the thick file of the Trump sanctions against Iran, even while seemingly pursuing negotiations."

Former President Donald Trump routinely denounced the nuclear accord as the "worst deal ever negotiated" and withdrew from the agreement in 2018 after an ill-fated attempt to bring the other parties -- Britain, France, Russia, China, Germany and Iran -- on board with additional restrictions. After withdrawing, Trump embarked on what he called a "maximum pressure campaign" against Iran, reimposing all the U.S. sanctions that had been eased under the deal and adding penalties.

In a media briefing on Iran's new foreign policy, Amir Abdollah was very skeptical about the Biden administration's intentions, stressing that actions are more important than "empty but beautiful words," and so is "the comportment" and "behavior" of the U.S. toward Iran.

Iran's top diplomat sharply criticized additional sanctions imposed by the Biden administration, as well as its refusal to give a green light for Iran to access millions of dollars of its money frozen in South Korea and Japanese banks to buy covid-19 vaccines and medicine, and suddenly asking Britain to stop payment of 42-year-old debts.

Recalling that Iranians have a long, rich history and an ancient civilization behind them, Amir Abdollah said "the United States of America must speak with a civilized tone and tongue with the people of Iran, not the language of threats, of pressure and sanctions." The past 42 years, since the Iranian revolution, have "made clear the language of threats will not work against the great people of Iran."

Biden and his team have made a U.S. return to the deal one of their top foreign policy priorities.

The administration Thursday implored Iran to quickly return to talks on its nuclear program, which were suspended in June ahead of the Iranian elections, warning that the window for negotiations may soon close.

A senior administration official, who briefed reporters on condition that he not be identified by name, said U.S. patience is wearing thin and that further delays while Iran continues to expand its nuclear capabilities, including enriching uranium to higher levels, could lead Washington and its partners to conclude that a return to the landmark nuclear deal is no longer worthwhile.

Amir Abdollah said the new government is reviewing the files of the nuclear negotiations in Vienna and will return to the talks because constructive negotiations can lead to "tangible, verifiable results."

The foreign minister said Iran's expectations are that all parties return to the Vienna negotiations and then fulfill their commitments under the 2015 agreement in a verifiable way.

"Have no doubt," he said, "that if [the U.S.] wish to continue their previous language towards Iran and previous comportment towards Iran, the hands of the Islamic Republic of Iran will not remain tied."

Information for this article was contributed by Matthew Lee of The Associated Press.

Print Headline: Foreign minister vows Iran to resume nuclear talks soon

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