TEHRAN- Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi on Friday slammed a US move to expand its sanctions blacklist, saying it went against the spirit of a landmark deal agreed last month.
“America’s move is against the spirit of the Geneva deal,” under which world powers agreed not to impose any new sanctions, Araqchi told the Fars news agency.
“We are evaluating the situation and will make the appropriate response,” he said, as his negotiating team headed home for consultations after halting talks with the powers in Vienna on implementing the November agreement.
Under the deal reached in Geneva, Iran agreed to freeze parts of its suspect nuclear programme for six months in return for some $7 billion in relief from Western sanctions as it negotiates a final, comprehensive accord to allay suspicions it is seeking a weapons capability.
Iranian negotiators quit the implementation talks late on their fourth day Thursday after Washington blacklisted a dozen companies and individuals for evading US sanctions, state media reported.
Mehr news agency quoted informed sources as saying the “new American sanctions” were the reason for the interruption of the talks.
“The negotiations were halted by Iranian delegation because of new American sanctions. The Iranian negotiating team has halted the talks at this stage and are headed back to the capital due to America’s lack of commitment to the agreement,” Mehr reported.
But a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who represents the powers in the talks, said that both sides had headed home for consultations and that she expected the talks to resume soon.
“After four days of lengthy and detailed talks, reflecting the complexity of the technical issues discussed, it became clear that further work is needed,” spokesman Michael Mann said.
“There will now be consultations in capitals, in the expectation that technical talks will continue soon,” he added.
Under the Geneva deal, Washington agreed to refrain from slapping new sanctions on Iran.
But senior administration officials argued that Thursday’s blacklistings were carried out within the framework of the existing sanctions regime which had forced Tehran to the negotiating table and did not constitute new measures.