Iran's foreign minister has said the details concerning the implementation of EU proposals for keeping Tehran committed to Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers (JCPOA) are not yet clear.
Speaking with Tasnim, a news agency affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Mohammad Javad Zarif said on May 26, “The report claiming that the EU plans to put forward a proposal to Iran outside of the framework of JCPOA and start talks about Iran's missile power and regional influence is a complete lie.”
Although a source had said earlier that Europe was planning to table the issue of Iran's missile program, it was later denied.
Accusing Israel of spreading the “fake news” as a part of its "psychological operation" against Iran, Zarif maintained, “Even the EU itself has dismissed the report as a lie.”
Following the withdrawal of Washington from Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA, Tehran and EU heavyweights France, Germany,and the United Kingdom started a new round of negotiations to prevent the deal from total collapse.
While urging Tehran to stay loyal to JCPOA, the trio, supported by China and Russia, is also trying to find ways to address Washington’s concerns over Iran’s missile program and military intervention in regional affairs.
“We have said time and again that we are merely negotiating about JCPOA and have no demands or words beyond it,” Iran's top diplomat told Tasnim.
Insisting that Tehran’s talks with the EU cannot be described as black and white, Zarif said that “patience is the name of the game” and everything depends on the EU’s final proposals to Iran.
“It remains to be seen what the Europeans would suggest to Iran, and what guarantees the European Union will give Iran that Tehran’s interests are protected after the U.S. withdrawal from JCPOA,” Zarif said.
Tasnim also cited Zarif as saying, “The Europeans have pointed to all important parts of JCPOA that should be implemented, and now the question is how they would implement those parts.”
Last week, after meeting with Zarif, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini said the EU had tabled nine topics for further negotiations with Tehran.
In speaking to Tasnim, Zarif emphasized that none of the topics offered by the EU relates to Tehran’s missile program or its role in regional affairs.
“Reports claiming that the EU has decided to table Iran’s missile program during its talks with Iran is an absolute lie. The Zionist regime of Israel is behind the false news and spreading it," he said.
The remarks came after a number of Iran’s top diplomats and administration officials attended a closed session of the parliament about the future of JCPOA on May 27.
Zarif assured that Iran’s missile program and its position toward regional affairs have no place in Tehran’s new round of talks with the EU.
Iran’s ballistic missile program is one of the main reasons behind Washington’s decision to withdraw from JCPOA. U.S. President Donald Trump has stated his readiness to talk to Iran about its missile program as a step toward reaching a new deal replacing JCPOA.
Tehran, for its part, has insisted it will never discuss its missile program with any foreign party.
Earlier, Iran had also insisted it would reject any proposal for renegotiating JCPOA but has agreed to a new round of talks with the EU to keep the nuclear deal from total collapse.
However, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has already declared that he is not optimistic over the outcome of Tehran's talks with the European parties to JCPOA.
Khamenei has vaguely underlined that any decision to keep the deal running without the United States should be conditional on “practical guarantees” from the three European parties to JCPOA.
In similarly vague wording, President Hassan Rouhani said, “Iran weighs plans to remain in the agreement with the other five parties (China, France, Germany, Russia, and UK), provided that they ensure full benefits for Iran.”
Earlier this month, Zarif, sent on assignment by Rouhani, made a packed diplomatic trip for negotiations on how to save JCPOA in the wake of the United States dropping the nuclear deal.
The foreign minister held meetings with Chinese and Russian officials in Beijing and Moscow and then traveled to Brussels for talks with the European parties to JCPOA.
The United States has warned that Iran should comply with the conditions Secretary of State Mike Pompeo set for it lest it face “crushing sanctions."
Halting the enrichment of uranium, ending support for militant groups like Lebanese Hezbollah and Yemeni Houthis, and curbing its ballistic missile program are some of the conditions Pompeo set for Iran.
While Tehran has dismissed the conditions as “illusive,” an Iranian member of parliament has cited Zarif as describing JCPOA as a “patient on the verge of death, confined in an intensive care unit."