Iran is asking the United States to release at least 8.6 billion euros ($ 10 billion) in frozen Iranian funds if Tehran wants to resume nuclear talks. Foreign Minister Hossain Amir Bollahian said in an interview with state television on Sunday.
According to Amir Tollahian, the US government approached his team through “various channels” about resuming talks around the United Nations General Assembly in New York last month. They stalled when cleric Ibrahim Raisi was elected president in June. At the time in New York, Iran was said to have shared its position on frozen billions with the United States. Raisi is more hostile to the West than his predecessor Hassan Rouhani.
In 2015, Iran agreed with China, Germany, France, Britain, Russia, the United States and the European Union to restrict the country’s nuclear program in exchange for lifting sanctions. But in 2018, then-US President Donald Trump pulled out of the deal and tightened sanctions against Iran.
Since Joe Biden took office in early 2021, the United States has been trying to renew the 2015 nuclear deal. The Iranian demand may be an impediment to those efforts, although it is not yet clear whether resumption of talks will be difficult.
“If Mr. Biden is serious, tell him to send a serious signal,” said Amir Tollahian. “Releasing at least $ 10 billion in frozen money is a serious signal.”
Another possible problem is that if any negotiations are fruitful, they will be conducted by Ali Bakery Ghani, says Amir Bollahian. A staunch conservative critic of the nuclear deal was appointed deputy foreign minister last month.
The United States has not yet officially responded to Amir Bollahiyan’s statement. Meanwhile, sanctions against Iran are in place and its crude oil is not on the market. As a result of those sanctions, billions of dollars of Iranian oil revenues have been frozen in foreign accounts, most of which are in South Korea.