Iran’s intelligence ministry said on Wednesday it arrested two European nationals for allegedly fomenting “insecurity” in the country, state media reported, as the EU pushes to revive Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.
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The pair were accused of “organizing chaos and social disorder aimed at destabilizing (Iran)” in conjunction with foreign intelligence services, state TV cited the ministry as saying, without revealing their nationalities.
The arrests coincided with a visit to Tehran by the European Union’s Iran nuclear talks coordinator Enrique Mora, who held talks with his Iranian counterpart Ali Bagheri Kani, according to Iranian media.
Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said Tehran wanted US sanctions lifted “with the observance of Iran’s red lines.
“Negotiations are pursued ... to reach a good, strong and lasting agreement,” he said on Twitter.
Talks to revive the 2015 accord have been on hold since March, chiefly over Iran’s insistence on Washington removing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Tehran’s elite security force, from the US Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) list.
Then-US President Donald Trump ditched the pact in 2018 and reimposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic, prompting Tehran to retaliate by gradually violating the deal’s nuclear curbs.
Tehran’s refusal to back down from the FTO assignation demand has raised doubt about whether the nuclear impasse can be resolved. Washington has made it clear that it has no such plans, while also not ruling it out.
But Iran’s rulers ultimately want an end to sanctions, fearing a return of unrest among lower-income Iranians, whose protests in recent years have reminded leaders how vulnerable they can be to grassroots anger over economic hardship.
Presiding over an economy crippled by the US sanctions, Iran’s clerical establishment has faced near-continuous protests by workers, teachers and government employees in recent months over unpaid wages, high unemployment, inflation exceeding 40 percent and mismanagement.
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Expanding the scope of the JCPOA might serve Iran’s best interests
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US still considers Iran’s IRGC a terrorist group: State Department official“It was never certain, it was never clear to us whether we’d be able to achieve a mutual return to [JCPOA] compliance, so we’ve always been engaged in contingency planning with our partners,” State Department Spokesman Ned Price said. Middle East
Expanding the scope of the JCPOA might serve Iran’s best interestsUS negotiators have been keen to expand the scope of the Iranian nuclear deal (JCPOA) to include activities such as its missile program. Iran has ... Opinion
Iran will never obtain a nuclear weapon, should return to JCPOA talks: US official“The more that the Iranians make progress on their nuclear program, the less benefit there is to going back to the JCPOA. So, both sides need to act now. And we’re ready,” Acting Assistant Secretary Joey Hood told Al Arabiya. Middle East