Iran asked to unfreeze $10 billion in funds to restart nuclear talks with US: official

Iran asked for the U.S. to unfreeze $10 billion of its funds in order to restart nuclear talks, Iran’s foreign minister said Saturday.

Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said that the unfreezing of funds would be a sign of good will, according to Reuters.

“The Americans tried to contact us through different channels (at the U.N. General Assembly) in New York, and I told the mediators if America’s intentions are serious then a serious indication was needed … by releasing at least $10 billion of blocked money,” the official said during a state television interview, Reuters reported

“They are not willing to free $10 billion belonging to the Iranian nation so that we can say that the Americans once in the past several decades considered the interests of the Iranian nation,” he added.

Iran has been unable to access billions of dollars of its foreign funds due to U.S. sanctions on the country.

The U.S. has been trying to restart nuclear talks with Iran after former President Trump withdrew the country from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JPCOA), commonly known as the Iran Nuclear Deal, in 2018. The deal was first established under former President Obama with other countries in 2015. 

The JCPOA originally involved important global powers like China, Russia, the U.K., Germany and France. As part of the deal, Iran would reduce its uranium enrichment, a material used to make nuclear weapons. In exchange, the U.S. would provide sanctions relief on the Middle Eastern country. 

“We’ve seen Foreign Minister Abdollahian’s statement that Iran will return to the negotiating table. The United States remains ready to return to and conclude our negotiations quickly, before the window of opportunity to return to the JCPOA closes,” a State Department spokesperson told The Hill. 

Iran halted its compliance with the nuclear deal in 2019. 

France and Germany encouraged nuclear talks to resume earlier this summer. 

Nuclear talks took place in Vienna but were adjourned in June, and the U.S. only engaged indirectly in talks through allies. 

“Notably, all of the P5+1 agreed on the need to resume talks as soon as possible and to pick up where the talks were left off last June. The Biden Administration has been sincere and steadfast in pursuing a path of meaningful diplomacy to achieve a mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA and to address our full range of concerns with Iran,” the State Department spokesperson said.

“A mutual return to compliance is in America’s national interest. It is the best available option to restrict Iran’s nuclear program and provide a platform to address Iran’s destabilizing conduct. We are seeking a mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA.  If Iran demands more or offers less, these negotiations will not succeed,” the spokesperson added.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said in September he wanted to resume nuclear talks with the goal of “lifting of all oppressive sanctions.”

Amirabdollahian said the country would “soon” go back to Vienna for discussions regarding the nuclear deal. 

A United Nations nuclear watchdog said Iran has already failed to comply with a nuclear monitoring deal it agreed to earlier in September.

–Updated on Oct. 5 at 9:09 a.m.

Tags 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal Barack Obama Donald Trump Iran Iran–United States relations
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