IIn the nuclear dispute with Iran, the United States has underscored its willingness to hold direct talks with the country. The State Department in Washington announced on Thursday that the United States would accept an invitation from EU Foreign Affairs Representative Josep Borrell to a meeting of all the signatories of the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran.
At this meeting, including Iran, a diplomatic solution to the dispute over the Iranian nuclear program should be discussed, said ministry spokesman Ned Price.
End of the “extremely restrictive measures”
The US State Department also announced that the draconian restrictions on the freedom of movement of Iranian UN diplomats imposed by former President Donald Trump are to be relaxed. The “extremely restrictive measures” should be lifted “to remove unnecessary barriers to multilateral diplomacy,” said a ministry official.
As part of its campaign of “maximum pressure” on Iran, the Trump administration at UN headquarters in New York had banned accredited Iranian diplomats from moving outside of a few blocks from the UN building and the headquarters of the Iranian representation.
The latest announcements from Washington followed a virtual conference of Foreign Ministers of the United States, Germany, France and the UK on Thursday. These three European states, along with the United States, China and Russia, are among the signatory states to the nuclear agreement with Iran, which is supposed to prevent the country from building the atomic bomb.
“Trump Legacy of Economic Terrorism”
After the deliberations, the American Secretary of State Antony Blinken had already confirmed in a joint statement with his three European colleagues on Thursday that President Joe Biden was ready for talks with Tehran. If Iran fully complied with its obligations under the nuclear agreement, the United States would catch up, Blinken said.
However, Iran continues to make the lifting of American sanctions a prerequisite for fully adhering to the nuclear deal again. Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Sarif wrote on the online service Twitter that the United States and the three European countries must first “end the Trump legacy of economic terrorism against Iran”.
Trump had unilaterally terminated the nuclear agreement in 2018, which he regarded as completely inadequate, and then put a series of massive economic sanctions against Iran into force. In response, Tehran had gradually withdrawn from its obligations under the agreement.
Sanctions should not have come into force
In another signal of readiness for dialogue, the new American administration declared on Thursday that it no longer assumed that the United Nations would enforce sanctions against Iran last year. The UN sanctions against the country “remain at an end,” said the acting UN Ambassador of the United States, Richard Mills, in a letter to the UN.
The Trump administration, on the other hand, declared in August that the UN sanctions against Tehran, which were lifted as part of the nuclear deal with Iran, had “come into force again”. The American government at the time relied on a so-called snapback mechanism. This enables all sanctions to be reinstated if a signatory state to the agreement determines that Iran has violated its requirements.
Because of the United States’ withdrawal from the agreement, the other signatory states no longer considered the United States to be entitled to activate the snapback mechanism.
“Le Figaro”: German and French arrested in Iran
Just at the point in time when the nuclear dispute was showing signs of rapprochement, the French daily “Le Figaro” reported on Friday that two Europeans had been arrested in Iran. Without naming their source, the newspaper wrote that a person with German nationality and a person with French and Iranian dual nationality had been arrested. Accordingly, the two arrests took place two weeks ago as leverage before the verdict against an Iranian diplomat in Belgium. A court then sentenced the diplomat to 20 years in prison on February 4 for planning a bomb attack on a meeting of the Iranian opposition in France in 2018. Neither the French Foreign Ministry nor the German and Iranian authorities were initially able to provide comments.
The foreign ministers of the United States, France, Great Britain and Germany recently called on Iran to release all “arbitrarily detained nationals” of their countries. The Iranian Revolutionary Guards have arrested dozens of people with dual citizenship in recent years, mostly in connection with allegations of espionage.