Iran came up with an offer to permanently allow enhanced inspections of its nuclear program in exchange for the permanent removal of US sanctions, The Guardian reported Thursday.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Zarif commented on the offer, calling it a “substantial move.”
“It’s not about photo ops. We are interested in substance,” Zarif told reporters in New York on Thursday, adding that there are “other substantial moves” that can be made. “If [the Trump administration] are putting their money where their mouth is, they are going to do it. They don’t need a photo op. They don’t need a two-page document with a big signature.”
According to Zarif, the Islamic Consultative Assembly of Iran has yet to ratify the Additional Protocol of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), an agreement that allows the UN agency inspectors extensive access to Iranian nuclear technology as proof that the country does not have a hidden nuclear weapons program. Under the JCPOA, the Protocol was set for ratification in 2023. The US had initially vowed to lift all sanctions imposed on Iran under the terms of the deal.
Zarif instead proposed that the two sides take this new step immediately.
“If Trump wants more for more, we can ratify the Additional Protocol, and he can lift the sanctions he set,” Zarif said. “He has said that he will take any measure to Congress – fine. Lift the sanctions, and you’ll have the Additional Protocol sooner than 2023.”
The US State Department has not yet commented on Zarif’s proposal.
Iran has been giving conflicting signals on diplomatic engagement with the US, as Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reportedly condemns Washington as a partner that cannot be trusted after Washington without warning withdrew from JCPOA treaty last year.
Zarif has, however, indicated that Tehran is willing to strike a deal with the Trump administration, which would not necessarily require the US to return to JCPOA – something that Iran demanded previously, the Guardian said.
The US withdrawal from the JCPOA in 2018 was the first step in Trump’s campaign of escalating tensions with Iran, which eventually culminated in the downing of a US drone last month. According to Zarif, the incident put the two nations on the brink of war, but “prudence” allowed for the aversion of a catastrophe.
“I believe we were a few minutes away from a war,” Zarif said. “Prudence prevailed, and we’re not fighting. So that gives a reason for us to be optimists. If we work, if we are serious, then we can find a way forward.”