Iran Agrees to Reopen Nuclear Talks with U.S. Just Over a Month Before New Sanctions Go Into Effect

Iran agreed on Monday to resume stalled nuclear talks just over a month before U.S. sanctions are scheduled to snap back into place as punishment for Tehran’s missile program. The statement by Iranian President…

Iran Agrees to Reopen Nuclear Talks with U.S. Just Over a Month Before New Sanctions Go Into Effect

Iran agreed on Monday to resume stalled nuclear talks just over a month before U.S. sanctions are scheduled to snap back into place as punishment for Tehran’s missile program.

The statement by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani follows a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that took place in Tehran. Pompeo is on his first trip to Iran since taking office in April.

Iran’s nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi said in Tehran on Monday that his country will “hold direct talks” with the United States to settle differences in the wake of recent talks with U.N. nuclear watchdog inspectors. Salehi said Iran welcomed talks “without preconditions” but did not elaborate on the way ahead.

Salehi said Iran’s position remains unchanged: that it doesn’t need nuclear weapons and that it is committed to the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

The November freeze on U.S. sanctions was aimed at persuading Iran to negotiate easing sanctions, which are about to snap back into place after President Donald Trump pulled out of the nuclear accord and ordered the reimposition of economic penalties.

Trump blames Iran’s leaders for the country’s ills, claiming its economy has faltered due to international sanctions.

“In order to get a positive response from our United States partners from Europe, Iran had a meeting with inspectors of the IAEA, and that meeting took place on October 12,” Salehi said on Sunday in comments carried by Iranian state television.

Salehi said Iran has since provided the IAEA with all information needed for verifying its nuclear compliance.

Iran said it wants to hold talks with the Trump administration as early as January in an effort to resolve differences and maintain the nuclear deal.

The Iranians also want the West to help them lift crippling sanctions, and they have repeatedly complained that they are suffering economically despite their compliance with the nuclear deal.

They also want the West to help compensate them for loss of oil revenues due to U.S. sanctions.

The original 2015 accord between Iran and world powers lifted sanctions and saw Tehran cap its nuclear program in exchange for a lifting of most of the international sanctions that had crippled its economy. Trump has indicated he wants to scrap the deal, but France, Britain and Germany have all urged him to preserve it.

Iran has demanded the West allow it to resume full commercial activity with several European companies that suspended their operations amid the resurgence of sanctions.

Seeking to show Iran the pressure being applied to the Islamic Republic, Pompeo traveled to Tehran in July, seeking to repair relations with Iran’s leadership. He also warned that Washington will keep up the pressure to ensure Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal.

Salehi and other Iranian officials have repeatedly slammed Pompeo’s July visit, with Salehi saying it infringed on Iranian sovereignty.

The second phase of renewed U.S. sanctions are set to go into effect on Nov. 4, after the new U.N. sanctions are imposed. They would target Iran’s oil exports, its banking system and its automotive sector.

The first batch of sanctions, announced in May, hit Iran’s vital oil industry. Sanctions aimed at Iran’s automotive sector were scheduled to begin on Monday.

After they snap back, Tehran can only sell oil on the open market. It will also be unable to use its foreign currency reserves to pay for imports, further hurting Iran’s ailing economy.

Associated Press writer Aron Heller in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

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