Iran Willing to Talk Directly to the US on the Nuclear Accord

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi said Tuesday the opportunity for direct talks with the US over Tehran’s nuclear accord with international powers was not completely closed.

In a televised broadcast on state TV network, Raisi commented on the mounting speculation about the two long-time foes sitting across from each other at the negotiating table. He noted the United States made the request several times recently.

“There have been no direct conversations (with the US) thus far, but we now proclaim there is an opportunity for negotiation if the other side wishes to ease the unjust sanctions,” he responded to a query.

Direct Discussions in the Works

He stated “certain nations” have communicated with Iran on Washington’s behalf, offering direct discussions.

Raisi’s statements come hours after Iran’s senior security official, Ali Shamkhani, said the two countries’ interactions thus far have been limited to “casually written exchanges,” adding “there is no need for more.”

He stressed, though, that the mode of contact may shift from casual to formal “if a strong consensus (in Vienna) becomes possible.”

Shamkhani’s words are interpreted as veiled support of future direct negotiations between Washington and Tehran. Shamkhani is the head of Iran’s formidable Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) and considered close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

As a result of statements made by Iran’s foreign affairs minister at an occasion in Tehran on Monday, speculation regarding the potential for direct negotiations between Iran and the United States has gathered traction.

Hossein Amir-Abdollahian stated America sent letters, requesting direct discussions with Iran in Vienna. He stated it would be considered if both parties “arrive at a point where a decent settlement with substantial assurances necessitates direct talks with the US.”

He claimed Iran is now engaged in “direct conversations” with just the P4 1 nations (Russia, France, China, the United Kingdom, and Germany).

At the same time, “informal negotiations” with the US are being conducted through the European Union’s delegate in the Vienna negotiations, Enrique Mora.

Readiness of the United States

US authorities also demonstrated a willingness to engage in direct conversations with Iran in recent days.

At a news conference, Ned Price, a spokesperson for the US State Department, said Monday the US is ready to meet openly. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is more popularly known as the Iran Nuclear Agreement. 

He said they have always held the belief that direct engagement with Iran, on both JCPOA discussions and other matters, would be more fruitful,” he remarked, alluding to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

He emphasized direct engagement with Iran will enable “more effective dialogue” to resurrect the previous US government’s accord in May 2018.

Marathon discussions about resurrecting the historic deal, which launched in April last year, continued in November, following Iran’s change of administration.

Iran’s new administration, led by Raisi, a previous judiciary chief, placed a premium on sanctions lifting, as well as confirmation and assurances, over other concerns.

While both parties acknowledged “progress” at the eighth round of negotiations, several fundamental differences obstruct or postpone a resolution.