Iran claims that Washington is "procrastinating" in indirect negotiations to revive a landmark nuclear deal and said a prisoner swap with the United States was not linked to the nuclear talks.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani told a news conference in Tehran on August 22 that only a few points must still be resolved in the talks but they were very important ones.
"The Americans are procrastinating and there is inaction from the European sides.... America and Europe need an agreement more than Iran," he said, adding Tehran wanted a sustainable deal that would preserve what it called its legitimate rights.
Europe's top diplomat, Josep Borrell, says further talks on reviving the deal could be held this week.
"A meeting was scheduled to take place in Vienna at the end of last week, but it was not possible. It is possible that it could take place this week," Borrell told a news conference in Spain on August 22.
Iran concluded the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA) in 2015 with the United States, France, Germany, Britain, Russia, and China. The deal saw Iran agree to limit its enrichment of uranium under the watch of UN inspectors in exchange for the lifting of most economic sanctions.
In 2018, Washington unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear pact under then-President Donald Trump, reintroducing crippling sanctions. Iran reacted by gradually backtracking on its obligations under the deal, such as uranium enrichment.
Negotiators from Iran, Russia, and the EU -- as well as the United States, indirectly -- resumed talks over Tehran’s nuclear deal on August 4 in Vienna after a months-long standstill in negotiations.
Iran has sought to obtain guarantees that no future U.S. president would renege on the JCPOA if it were revived. However, President Joe Biden cannot provide such ironclad assurances because the deal is a political understanding rather than a legally binding treaty.
Borrell said the negotiations had gone as far as they could go and "this is the inflection point" as far the Iranian response is considered.
"There was an Iranian response that I considered reasonable to transmit to the United States," Borrell said. "The United States has not formally replied yet. But we are waiting for their response and I hope that response will allow us to finish the negotiation. I hope so, but I can't assure you of it."
The other parties to the JCPOA are Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia.
Kanaani also said a prisoner exchange with the United States would not be linked to the nuclear talks.
Tehran has long sought the return of more than a dozen Iranians currently held in the United States, while Washington has been seeking the release of several Iranian-American dual nationals, including businessman Siamak Namazi, who was arrested in October 2015.
"We emphasize that the exchange of prisoners with Washington is a separate issue and it has nothing to do with the process of negotiations to revive the 2015 pact," he said.
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