Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator and Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri-Kani has defended negotiations with the West as a means of securing “national interests.”

During a speech on Monday, Bagheri-Kani leveled criticism at opponents of negotiations, accusing them of stripping the regime of a vital and crucial “instrument for securing national interests.”

His remarks came amid an ongoing debate among the country’s politicians regarding the approach towards international negotiations over the country’s nuclear program. Bagheri-Kani’s support for diplomatic interactions with the West seemed contrary to what his political camp was pushing for when hardliner Saeed Jalili was the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council (2007-2013) and former president Hassan Rouhani held office (2013-2021).

Bagheri-Kani was a protégé of hardliner Jalili, who was traditionally opposed to any accommodation with West and has been playing an influential role among Iran’s hardliners who were incessantly attacking Rouhani over the JCPOA nuclear deal.

But Bagheri-Kani now maintains that Tehran sees negotiations as a vital means to secure national interests. “The redline in criticizing the government’s foreign policy is safeguarding national interests, not individuals or institutions,” he added.

“Foreign policy is not a realm of emotions but rather a field of beliefs, rationality, and intelligence,” Bagheri-Kani said addressing a group of university professors. He pointed out that some try to portray “security and development” as being in conflict with “commitment to ideals and values,” explaining that “sustainable security and development” is, in fact, contingent upon “adherence to ideals and values.”

In a clear jab directed at hardliners, he said, “Those who, under the guise of defending values, seek to portray negotiations as fundamentally opposed to values are essentially aiming to deplete the regime’s hand in utilizing this key and vital tool for national interests,” he stated.

Emphasizing that there is no obstacle to the talks aimed at reviving the 2015 nuclear agreement –officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), he said, “The Islamic Republic of Iran sees no obstacle to resuming negotiations and finalizing an agreement if the other parties act realistically and prevent repeating the past mistakes.”

“The administration has never blocked the path to diplomacy, negotiations and efforts to secure the national interests through achievement of a balanced agreement,” the senior diplomat said.

World powers were in talks in Vienna for 11 months in 2021-2022 to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. The negotiations collapsed in March 2022 over Tehran’s demands that the Revolutionary Guards be removed from a US list of foreign terrorist organizations and ‘guarantees’ to cushion its economy and nuclear program from the US again leaving the accord. The Biden administration has been striving to bring the United States back into the JCPOA, a deal that was previously abandoned under the Trump administration.

Recently, Washington and Tehran reached a contentious agreement, whose details have been concealed from the public as well as lawmakers in Washington. The deal entails the release of five American prisoners detained in Tehran in exchange for five Iranian prisoners held in the United States as well as the release of $6 billion of frozen Iranian assets.

As a first step in this deal – which followed a two-year mediation effort by Qatar and Oman — Iran on August 10 released four imprisoned US citizens from Evin prison into house arrest, where they joined a fifth already under home confinement.

These include businessman Siamak Namazi, 51, Emad Sharqi, 58, and environmental activist Morad Tahbaz, 67, who holds British nationality in addition to Iranian citizenship. The identities of the fourth and fifth Americans who either left prison or were under house arrest have not been disclosed.

Earlier in the day, the head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog, IAEA’s Rafael Grossi, said that bilateral talks between Iran and the United States could “provide clarity” and be beneficial.

Speaking at a news conference during the International Atomic Energy Agency ‘s (IAEA) 35-nation Board of Governors meeting in Vienna, Grossi acknowledged that Washington has informed the International Atomic Energy Agency of confidential talks with Iran, but he clarified that he is not privy to the details. He also added that Washington might be discussing the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal with Tehran but the IAEA has a host of outstanding issues with Iran, including monitoring of its nuclear activities.

Source » iranintl