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Iran says ditching sanctions is top goal in talks with U.S. about nuclear deal

By Don Johnson
Iran says ditching sanctions is top goal in talks with U.S. about nuclear deal
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is seen during a visit to a nuclear power plant in Bushehr, Iran, on January 13, 2015. File Photo by Iranian Presidency Office/EPA-EFE

April 5 (UPI) -- Iran's main goal in negotiations this week for a U.S. return to the 2015 nuclear deal is removing all economic sanctions, Tehran said Monday.

The United States and Iran have agreed to negotiate through intermediaries in Austria on Tuesday to discuss a potential U.S. return. The new talks were announced at a virtual meeting among the remaining parties to the deal last week.

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There will be no direct talks between the two counties during the new negotiations, which will take place in Vienna. The talks Tuesday will be the first serious step toward the United States rejoining the Obama-era pact since U.S. President Joe Biden took office more than two months ago.

Iran, Russia, China, Britain, France, Germany and the European Union -- all the remaining signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal -- met Friday to discuss a U.S. return.

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In February, Iran said the European Union could play a mediating role in the dispute with the United States over the deal, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action -- which seeks to limit Tehran's nuclear activity to the laboratory in exchange for sanctions relief.

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The goal now is removing all "cruel" U.S. sanctions against Iran and clarifying how parties should fulfill commitments, Iran foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said at a briefing Monday, according to state-run Press TV.

"The path is clear. All U.S. sanctions [against Iran] must be removed at once," he said. "Then [this measure] must be verified [by Tehran] and only then, the Islamic Republic will take its step [to return to its JCPOA commitments in full]."

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The sanctions should be removed in a single step, Khatibzadeh noted, adding that Iran will provide negotiating countries with a path that should be taken by the United States and a comprehensive list of sanctions to be lifted.

U.S. State Department deputy spokeswoman Jalina Porter said last week that the Vienna talks will focus on the steps Iran must take to return to compliance with the nuclear deal. Tehran has taken multiple steps since the U.S. withdrawal in 2018 that violate the agreement, including exceeding limits on uranium enrichment.

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