July 17, 2021
CAIRO (Reuters) -Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator said on Saturday that the next round of talks in Vienna must wait until the new Iranian administration takes office in early August.
“We’re in a transition period as a democratic transfer of power is underway in our capital. Vienna talks must thus obviously await our new administration”, Abbas Araqchi said on Twitter.
Indirect U.S.-Iranian talks on reviving the 2015 deal have been on hold since the last round ended on June 20 and Iran has made clear it is not ready to resume before President-elect Ebrahim Raisi takes over.
In his tweet, Araqchi also said the United States and Britain need to stop linking the exchange of prisoners with the nuclear deal.
“Ten prisoners on all sides may be released tomorrow if US&UK fulfil their part of a deal,” he said.
Iran, which is holding a handful of Iranian-Americans, has been accused by rights activists of arresting dual nationals to try to extract a concession from other countries. Iran has dismissed the charge.
Iran said earlier this week that it was holding talks on securing the release of Iranian prisoners in American jails and other countries over violations of U.S. sanctions.
In May, Washington denied a report by Iranian state televsion that the countries had reached a prisoner swap deal in exchange for the release of $7 billion in frozen Iranian oil funds under U.S. sanctions in other countries.
The hiatus in nuclear talks, which U.S. and European officials attribute to hard-line Raisi’s election, has raised questions about next steps if the talks hit a dead end. The U.S. State Department has acknowledged it may need to rethink its stance.
(Reporting by Nayera Abdallah, editing by Louise Heavens)