“Iran is not interested in negotiations with the United States to clinch a new nuclear accord,” Iran's top diplomat said in a joint press conference with Finland's Foreign Affairs Minister Pekka Haavisto in Helsinki on Monday, adding, “We had detailed negotiations with the United States and it was not us who left the negotiating table.”
Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China – plus Germany signed the nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), on July 14, 2015 and started implementing it on January 16, 2016, Presstv Reported.
Under the JCPOA, Iran undertook to put limits on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions.
Since May, Iran has been suspending some of its commitments under the nuclear deal. Tehran has rowed back on its nuclear commitments twice in compliance with articles 26 and 36 of the JCPOA.
The spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Behrouz Kamalvandi, said earlier this month that the country would take the third step in scaling back its commitments under the JCPOA "in a matter of a month" if European signatories to the agreement continue to renege on their obligations.
"If the opposite side fails to live up to its commitments in the remaining one month [set as a deadline], the third phase of reducing JCPOA obligations will start as per what the president has previously declared in his capacity as head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council," Kamalvandi said.
Elsewhere in his Monday remarks, Iran's foreign minister said, “There is no agreement that would satisfy all parties. It would suffice if nobody would disagree with an agreement.”
Zarif added that if there ever was going to be any mediation between Iran and the United States over the nuclear deal, "it must primarily focus on how to make Washington resume fulfilling its obligations under the JCPOA."
He emphasized that the Islamic Republic is always ready for negotiations and interaction, but it is against raising human rights issues to achieve political goals.
"Despite America's unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA, Europe must remain committed to this agreement," the top Iranian diplomat said.
Emphasizing that the US sanctions on the Islamic Republic amount to waging an economic by Washington against the Iranian nation, Zarif said, "The US not only imposes sanctions against us, but it also forces others to sanction us."
The Iranian foreign minister pointed to Washington's attempts to zero out Iran's oil exports, saying, "No international body has banned Iran's oil sale," while stressing that "Iran is not committed to the European Union's decisions and Europe is not also seeking to impose its own decisions on any non-EU state."
Zarif also condemned Britain's "illegal and unlawful" move to seize the Adrian Darya 1 supertanker in the Strait of Gibraltar last month carrying Iranian oil.
Britain’s naval forces unlawfully seized the vessel, then known as Grace 1, and its cargo of 2.1 million barrels of oil in the Strait of Gibraltar on July 4 under the pretext that the supertanker was carrying crude to Syria in violation of the European Union’s unilateral sanctions against the Arab country.
The measure, which marked a rare imposition of EU regulations on a non-EU member state, was vehemently condemned by Tehran as an act of “piracy" done at the request of Washington.
The Iranian top diplomat emphasized that the seizure of the Iranian supertanker was done on baseless grounds, saying, "Now, we are happy that this seizure is over and we hope that it will lead to a decrease in tensions. However, we are witnessing that the US still seeks to increase tensions."
Gibraltar’s government said on Sunday that it has knocked back a request by Washington to extend Adrian Darya 1's detention.
“The EU sanctions regime on Iran is fundamentally different to that of the US,” the Gibraltar Government said in a statement.
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) on Friday unveiled a warrant for the seizure of the Iran-operated supertanker. The DOJ also alleged that there had been “a scheme to unlawfully access the US financial system to support illicit shipments to Syria from Iran.”
US unilateralism will target European partners: Zarif
In another development also on Monday, the Iranian foreign minister said businesspeople expect Europe to take more steps in line with the JCPOA to enhance trade ties with Iran.
"The US unilateral measures have not remained limited to Iran and have also targeted [Washington's] European partners," Zarif said in a meeting with Finnish Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade Ville Skinnari in Helsinki.
There are ways such as enhancing bilateral trade ties and using multilateral interaction within the framework of initiatives, including Europe's payment mechanism with Tehran, officially called the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX), in order to counter Washington's unilateral measures and reduce its economic war against Iran, he added.
The three European signatories to the JCPOA unveiled late in January the long-awaited direct non-dollar payment mechanism meant to safeguard their trade ties with Tehran following the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal and in the face of Washington's "toughest ever" sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
In its initial stage, INSTEX will facilitate trade of humanitarian goods such as medicine, food and medical devices, but it will later be expanded to cover other areas of trade, including Iran’s oil sales. However, it has not resulted in any trade deals so far.
Skinnari, for his part, expressed hope that Finland would boost its economic cooperation with Iran.
He said his country is concerned about increasing tensions, but as the president of the European Union, it would play a constructive role in easing tensions.
On the first leg of a three-nation Scandinavian tour, the Iranian foreign minister arrived in the Finnish capital on Sunday for high-level talks with European officials on ways to ease tensions in the West Asia region.