The US and Iran are holding negotiations in Oman about the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said on Monday.
“The talks in Muscat have not been secret and we conduct indirect talks [with the US] through intermediaries,” Kanaani stated.
Kanaani said he could not confirm that there is an interim nuclear agreement or one that would replace the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
The Iranian spokesman said the JCPOA remains “the basis for the talks on lifting of the sanctions.”
The talks are also about releasing American hostages in Iran, which Kanaani referred to as “exchanging prisoners,” and said that “if the other party shows the same seriousness and goodwill, this can happen in the near future.” Iran has held Siamak Namazi, a businessman with dual US-Iranian citizenship, in prison since 2016 for alleged spying and cooperating with the US government.
Israeli warnings against a deal
Israeli officials have warned that Iran and the US are nearing a “less for less” deal, by which Iran would stop advancing its nuclear program but not reverse it, in exchange for access to some of its frozen assets or other economic benefits.
The US and Iran denied on Thursday that they had reached an interim deal, with a White House National Security spokesperson calling the reports to that effect “false and misleading.”
Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned on Sunday that the West cannot stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and that he will not enter into an agreement to scale back nuclear infrastructure.
“On the basis of our Islamic ideals, we do not want nuclear weapons,” Khamenei said, visiting an exhibition on Iran’s nuclear project. “But if this wasn’t the case, they would not be able to prevent us from doing so, just like they could not prevent our nuclear advancements so far.”
The head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, Mohammad Eslami, said on the same day that Iran has advanced its nuclear program towards breakout in order “to persuade or force the counter parties to ease the unjust economic embargo on Iran.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday “that no arrangement with Iran will oblige Israel. With or without an agreement, we will continue to do all that is necessary to defend the State of Israel.
“A return to the nuclear agreement with Iran will not stop the Iranian nuclear program and will only allow Iran to funnel money to terrorist organizations under its sponsorship in the Middle East and around Israel’s borders,” Netanyahu stated.
Reuters contributed to this report.