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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Asks Biden to Unfreeze Cash in Foreign Banks in Good Will Gesture as Nuclear Talks Stall

Sputnik News

Ilya Tsukanov

Tehran blacklisted two dozen mostly former US officials on charges of terrorism and "gross violations of human rights" on Saturday, with the move coming after the State Department announced that it would be keeping sanctions in place on the IRGC Quds Force - the elite Iranian military unit battling jihadists and Israel across the Middle East.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian has called on US President Joe Biden to lift some of the thousands of sanctions Washington has imposed against Tehran over the years in a show of goodwill before a revamped Iran nuclear deal is agreed.

"We are definitely looking for the sanctions to be lifted, but in a dignified way and with a strong and lasting agreement," Amir-Abdollahian said in a meeting with officials at the Foreign Ministry's foreign economic relations coordination headquarters on Sunday. His remarks were quoted by the FARS News Agency.

Commenting on the state of the Vienna talks, the foreign minister suggested that US negotiators have offered inconsistent and contradictory statements, sometimes expressing interest in unilaterally lifting restrictions while simultaneously threatening to impose new conditions outside the framework of the negotiations.

"Many times when they insisted on negotiations, we told them that if you really are acting in good faith, before any agreement, present one or two tangible issues, for example - release some of the Islamic Republic's assets in foreign banks. If we did not demand any loans or credit from the United States, let our money be released," Amir-Abdollahian said.

Quds Force: Bone of Contention in Nuclear Talks

Iran blacklisted 24 mostly former US officials on Saturday over their suspected role in instituting unilateral sanctions and the withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018, plus the January 2020 assassination of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani.

The move followed the US State Department's announcement Friday that it would be keeping sanctions against the IRGC Quds Force in place. "The president shares the [Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff's] view that IRGC Quds Forces are terrorists," a spokesperson told reporters.

The spat comes after the stalling of negotiations aimed at restoring the nuclear deal - also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Earlier in the week, Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley told a congressional hearing that he did "not support" the Quds Force "being delisted from the foreign terrorist organisation list" they were added to by the Trump administration in 2019. On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that he too deemed the Quds Force to be "terrorists," and that he was not "overly optimistic" about the prospects of the Iran nuclear deal talks leading to a revamped agreement in the near future.

At an event Saturday celebrating the 16th anniversary of the Iranian nuclear industry, President Ebrahim Raisi stressed that the Islamic Republic would never give up its legitimate rights to peaceful nuclear activity.

"Today, notwithstanding the wishes of enemies and relying on the steely will of our scientists, the nuclear industry of the Islamic Republic of Iran has made significant progress and, more importantly, has become domestic to our country," Raisi said.

"The many sanctions, threats and oppressions that were inflicted on the Iranian nation did not and will not stop us. The assassination of scientists and the sabotage of nuclear facilities could not stop the Iranian people from advancing their peaceful goals," the president added.

Raisi suggested that Iran's adversaries know perfectly well "that nuclear weapons have no place" in Iran's defence doctrine, and that the International Atomic Energy Agency has confirmed this fact.

Scientists showed off 9 nuclear achievements at Iran's National Nuclear Technology Day celebrations on Saturday, presenting three domestically-created radiopharmaceuticals, cold plasma technology and plasma therapy for cancer patients, and four separate projects in industry, laser, control systems and photography.

© Sputnik

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