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Iran's Raisi Says Ready for Nuclear Talks Revival, But Not Under Western 'Duress'

© REUTERS / WANA NEWS AGENCYEbrahim Raisi, who assumed office as Iran's president this month, speaks during a news conference in Tehran, Iran June 21, 2021.
Ebrahim Raisi, who assumed office as Iran's president this month, speaks during a news conference in Tehran, Iran June 21, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 04.09.2021
Earlier, following a halt in negotiations after the Iranian elections in June, France and Germany encouraged Iran to resume the nuclear talks, with Paris pressing for an immediate restart amid Western concerns about Tehran's escalating nuclear activities.
Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi said on Saturday that Tehran is willing to undertake discussions with participating countries to resurrect the 2015 nuclear agreement, but not under pressure from the West.
Raisi also underscored during a broadcast interview with IRNA news agency that Tehran is seeking negotiations that will eventually lead to the easing of US sanctions.
"I stated earlier that the issue of talks will, of course, be central for our government, but not with the pressure that they [the Western countries] are applying [against Iran]. The talks will not succeed if they continue under duress," Raisi is quoted as saying. "Talks are on the agenda ... We are seeking goal-oriented negotiations ... so sanctions on the Iranian people are lifted."
Earlier in the day, the spokesman for the Iranian foreign ministry, Saeed Khatibzadeh, blasted the US for the newest round of sanctions imposed on Iranian nationals that Washington claimed were "intelligence operatives."  Khatibzadeh stressed in his speech that "the current US officials are pursuing the failed path of the previous administration."
Women walk by a mural on the walls of the former US Embassy compound in Tehran. File photo. - Sputnik International, 1920, 04.09.2021
Iran Blasts Biden for ‘Pursuing Failed Path of Previous Administration’ as US Adds New Sanctions
Overall, more than 1,500 persons, companies, government agencies and armed groups linked to Iran have now been sanctioned by the US.
Last week, according to the national Mehr news agency, the president issued a proclamation selecting Mohammad Eslami as the new head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI).
The administration of former Iranian President Hassan Rouhani selected Eslami as the minister of roads and urban development. Ali Akbar Salehi led the AEOI at the time.
Last month, France, Germany, and the UK expressed "grave concern" over UN nuclear watchdog assessments indicating Iran had produced uranium metal enriched to 20% fissile purity for the first time, and increased its uranium enrichment capacity to 60%. These actions, the countries claimed, amounted to "serious violations of Iran's commitments" under the 2015 nuclear deal, which limited Tehran's uranium refinement purity to 3.67%. 
Furthermore, the European powers chastised Iran for restricting International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) access by pulling out of nuclear monitoring agreements.
In its turn, Iran insists that its nuclear program is peaceful, that it has informed the IAEA about its operations, and that any steps away from the 2015 agreement would be reversed if the US returned to the agreement and repealed sanctions.
The UK, Germany, China, Russia, the US, France and Iran signed a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2015. The deal included the lifting of sanctions in exchange for limiting Iran's nuclear program as a guarantee of Tehran's non-development of nuclear weapons.
However, in May 2018, then-US President Donald Trump decided to unilaterally withdraw and reinstate tough sanctions against Iran. In response, Iran announced a phased reduction in its obligations under the agreement, abandoning restrictions on nuclear research, centrifuges and the level of uranium enrichment.
Negotiations are currently underway in Vienna to restore the JCPOA and lift US sanctions on Iran, with the sixth round ending on June 20. According to the Russian Permanent Representative to international organizations in Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov, the work to restore the deal was completed by almost 90%, but political issues related to US obligations were unresolved.
The Iranian authorities said that the new government, which was formed after the inauguration of Raisi on August 5, will continue negotiations to restore the deal.
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