Iran asks US to suspend sanctions in a year to restart nuclear negotiations

Iran would be ready to resume nuclear deal negotiations with the United States and other Western powers if they give a “clear signal” that sanctions will be lifted within a year, conservative figure says prominent in Iran and a potential presidential candidate. .

“They can announce and assure us that any sanction imposed after the JCPOA [o acordo nuclear de 2015] will be high in less than a year and tell us to negotiate this process, ”said Mohsen Rezaei, who led the Revolutionary Guards for 16 years, in an interview with the Financial Times.

These comments are the clearest indication to date of the Islamic Republic’s willingness to engage with the United States. Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the nuclear deal with world powers in 2018, imposing the toughest sanctions to date on Tehran, as his government attempted to strike a new deal that included regional and military policies to Iran.

President Joe Biden is ready to reverse the deal as long as Iran, which has renounced most of its commitments included in the deal, also fully respects it. Iran has said the United States must return to the nuclear deal unconditionally because they are the ones who left.

“We have to see every month, during the negotiations, that some sanctions that are urgent for us are lifted,” said Rezaei, explaining the more detailed requests to date for Iran to return to the talks.

“For example, sanctions on financial transactions and restrictions imposed by European banks should be lifted in the first month. Oil exports are also among our top priorities.”

He said other US measures, such as helping to unfreeze billions of Iranian dollars held in international banks as an incentive to start negotiations, would amount to giving the country “candy”.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said that “all foreign policy matters are only transmitted through official channels” and that “clearly” Mohammad Javad Zarif, the country’s foreign minister, “is the responsible, “and not Rezaei,” who has no direct or indirect responsibility “on the matter.

In recent weeks, all parties have taken steps to demonstrate their determination to find a way out. After a last-minute deal with the US atomic watch agency, Iran softened the impact of its decision to stop surprise inspections for three months.

European countries did not present the International Atomic Energy Agency with a resolution this week to criticize Tehran for violations of the nuclear deal. The United States has said it will be ready to meet Iran in a format organized by the European Union, as the coordinator of the JCPOA joint commission.

Iran would use its “many tools within the framework of our rights and international standards to roll back the United States and lift the sanctions,” Rezaei said, adding that the country “will not take a step forward as long as we do. will not see any action from the Americans and until then. is action. greater confidence. “

“Our nuclear program will go forward,” he added.

While the United States and European countries have long wanted new deals to contain Iran’s missile program and the country’s role in regional conflicts, Tehran has always resisted that pressure. “Biden may have desires,” but “they can’t come true in these areas,” Rezaei said.

“Iran also enjoys a very important geopolitical position in the region. No problem can be solved in the region without Iran’s involvement.”

Rezaei said Iran sees no reason “not to develop defensive weapons as part of our self-defense policy, which excludes bombs and atomic weapons because they are not acceptable to us.” When asked if the country intends to expand the current range of ballistic missiles, he added: “We consider such limitations [manter o alcance dos mísseis balísticos em 2.000 quilômetros] for now, as long as our enemies don’t develop missiles beyond this range to strike us. “

Rezaei, 66, is secretary of the Council of Convenience, which drafts the country’s macroeconomic policies for approval by “supreme leader,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and left the leader of the Revolutionary Guards in 1997. Unusually , he was able to return to the armed forces a long time ago, seven years, and still wears a uniform on special occasions.

While central president Hassan Rouhani is expected to step down from government this year, after two terms, the hard-line power struggle has intensified. Rezaei, who has run for president twice, is cited as a hard-line candidate. Asked about it, he replied that he had not yet decided.

Reformist forces have expressed concern that military figures occupy one of the most important positions in the state. “What is wrong with military figures in power? [Presidência] by democratic means? Said Rezaei, citing Charles de Gaulle in France and Dwight Eisenhower in the United States.

“The Iranians have come to the conclusion that they need a strong, efficient and accountable government, accountable to the people. These characteristics are stronger among veterans and the military than among others.”

He rejected the hypothesis that the hard line could postpone its commitment to the United States until the end of the election. The timing of the negotiations depends on the country’s “national interests”, he said, noting that it was Khamenei who set the negotiating policy. “This time there is again a voice coming from Iran as happened in the nuclear negotiations [2013-2015], and that’s what the supreme leader says. “

Rezaei downplayed the impact of sanctions in a country struggling with high inflation and recession, and said Iran should prioritize its economy. “There is no reason to contribute to security in Iraq and Syria and then see other countries reap the economic benefits. Iranian products must have a strong presence in the region,” he said. .

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