Iran rejects a gradual lifting of US sanctions

© Reuters. Meeting of the governors at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna

(Reuters) -Iran wants the United States to lift all sanctions and opposes any “gradual” relaxation of restrictions, the State Department said on Saturday ahead of scheduled talks in Vienna next week on reviving the Tehran-2015 nuclear deal in Vienna global powers.

The comments came when France urged Iran to take a constructive stance in the indirect talks with Washington in the Austrian capital, which will be part of wider negotiations.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said Tehran is opposed to gradually easing sanctions.

“No step-by-step plan is being considered,” Khatibzadeh told state broadcaster Press TV. “The final policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran is the lifting of all US sanctions.”

Former President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the nuclear pact in 2018 and re-imposed sanctions on Iran, causing Tehran to violate some of the deal’s nuclear restrictions.

Trump’s successor Joe Biden wants to revive the deal, but Washington and Tehran have divided over who should take the first step.

The US State Department said the focus of the Vienna talks will be on “the nuclear steps Iran would need to take to return to adherence to the nuclear deal.”

Iran, China, Russia, France, Germany and the UK – all parties to the 2015 deal – held virtual talks on Friday to discuss the United States’ possible return to the deal.

After calling his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif on Saturday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian issued a statement saying he had asked Iran to avoid further violations of its nuclear commitments.

“I have encouraged Iran to participate constructively in the upcoming discussions,” said Le Drian.

“They are designed to help identify, in the coming weeks, the steps needed to return to full compliance with the nuclear agreement.”

([email protected]; additional reporting by Sarah White in Paris; editing by Pravin Char and Gareth Jones)

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