Zarif suggests that JCPOA could be recovered before Raisi takes office Middle East News


Iran’s foreign minister says there is a “good chance” for an agreement in the Vienna talks before the current administration’s term ends.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has expressed optimism over ongoing talks in Vienna aimed at saving his country’s nuclear deal with world powers, suggesting that an agreement could even be possible. before newly elected President Ebrahim Raisi takes office in August.

“There is a good chance we will reach an agreement before our term ends,” Zarif told Al Jazeera’s Semi Zeidan during a session of the Antalya Diplomacy Forum on the same day that Raisi, a conservative, was declared winner of Iran’s presidential election.

The 2015 nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan (JCPOA), was signed to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for easing sanctions.

However, former President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from the deal in 2018 and re-imposed crippling sanctions on the Iranian economy as part of a “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran. In response, Iran has pushed back key nuclear commitments, leaving the JCPOA hanging by a thread.

Since April, Iran and other signatories – Russia, China, France, Britain, Germany and the European Union – have been trying to find a common ground to keep the agreement alive.

“Talks are taking place right now as we talk,” Zarif told Turkish Antalya. “The text is getting clearer. The brackets are being removed, ”he added with a smile, without giving further details.

Zarif’s optimistic tone contrasted somewhat with the caution expressed on Friday by Russia’s envoy to the talks in Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov.

“Some difficult and time-consuming issues are still unresolved,” said Ulyanov, who noted that progress had been made in recent days.

France’s foreign ministry had also said Wednesday that there were still major disagreements.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Ned Price on Thursday reiterated U.S. views that talks in Vienna had advanced since they began in April, but that challenges remained, saying he could not fix them. a “deadline” when the current round ends.

Hopes of saving the JCPOA have risen following Joe Biden’s rise to the White House in January. The President of the United States wants to revive the agreement and even extend its terms, and there have been several rounds of indirect negotiations between the United States and Iran.

The talks are not direct because Iran refuses to face-to-face meetings, but the U.S. has held discussions with many of the participants.

“Most of our problems are cognitive,” Zarif told the forum. “The problem is that the United States must recognize that it was the United States that left the agreement with a goal and that it was not achieved.

“Now he’s back to the deal, so he can’t dictate the goals he couldn’t achieve through the economic war at the negotiating table. I think it’s a cognitive transformation that the U.S. administration needs to make. And I think we get there, but we are not there yet ”.

Commenting on Friday’s election in Iran, Zarif said the electoral procedures that led Raisi to the presidency must be respected.

“From now on everyone will have to work in a way, whether we disagree with him or disagree with him, whether we liked his policies or whether we didn’t like his policies, he is now chosen by the people, ”he said. .

Raisi, despite standing by strong supporters who strongly opposed the nuclear deal, campaigned for the promise of sanctions and said he would honor any state commitments made by the previous administration. , including the JCPOA.

However, he noted that he planned to form a “strong” government to steer the deal in the right direction.

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