The Biden administration accused Iran on Saturday of delaying nuclear talks and a prison swap deal allegedly made between the two old foes.
The State Department slammed as “outrageous” comments made by Iran’s deputy foreign minister who alleged the US and Britain were holding the swap “hostage” to the negotiations over salvaging the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA.
In a pair of tweets, Iran’s chief negotiator at the Vienna talks Seyyed Abbas Araghchi said the nuclear talks in Vienna could not resume until Iran’s hardline president-elect is inaugurated in early August.
“We’re in a transition period as a democratic transfer of power is underway in our capital,” he said. The nuclear talks “must thus obviously await our new administration. This is what every democracy demands.”
Araghchi added that the US and Britain “need to understand this and stop linking a humanitarian exchange — ready to be implemented — with the JCPOA.”
“TEN PRISONERS on all sides may be released TOMORROW if US&UK fulfill their part of deal,” he added.
In response to Aragchi’s remarks, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said that “These comments are an outrageous effort to deflect blame for the current impasse on a potential mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA,” Price said. “We stand ready to return to Vienna to complete work on a mutual return to the JCPOA once Iran has made the necessary decisions.”
Price called Aragchi’s comment on the prison swap deal between the two countries “just another cruel effort to raise the hopes of their families.”
“If Iran were truly interested in making a humanitarian gesture, it would simply release the detainees immediately,” he said.