Iranian FM: Tehran Asked US to Unfreeze $10 Billion Ahead of Nuclear Talks
03:51 GMT 03.10.2021 (Updated: 11:01 GMT 26.10.2022)
A senior US State Department official last month said that the US and its allies are awaiting Iran's return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) - an Obama-era nuclear agreement that the Trump administration abandoned in 2018. Although Tehran halted JCPOA compliance in 2019, Iran has expressed conditional interest in a nuclear deal.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian on Saturday revealed that US officials and middlemen seeking renewed nuclear talks with Iran should come to the table with a substantial offer that demonstrates Washington's intentions and renewed commitment to an accord.
During the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) last month, Amirabdollahian informed US intermediaries that nuclear talks could occur if Washington unfreezes some $10 billion of Tehran's funds that are blocked because of American sanctions.
"The Americans tried to contact us through different channels 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 Iranian foreign minister said during a state television interview.
"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", Amirabdollahian added.
Amirabdollahian told the outlet that Tehran would "soon" return to Vienna for talks. However, no date or timeline was provided.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in his UNGA address again emphasised that Tehran is not pursuing nuclear weapons, and would need the US to fulfill its obligations and lift all sanctions related to the accord.
As for Washington, a senior State Department official stressed last month that time is running out while continuing to assert that Tehran is growing its nuclear programme.
While the US is willing to return to the negotiating table, American officials have suggested that there will be a point when the non-proliferation benefits offered under the JCPOA no longer meet Washington's demands.
The unnamed State Department official noted that the US reserves the right to "conclude that Iran simply has a different course of action in mind". In that case, "we'll have to act accordingly", they added.