Iran’s foreign minister said on Saturday that US officials tried last month to talk about resuming nuclear talks, but he insisted that Washington first release $10 billion in frozen assets from Tehran as a sign of goodwill.
Iran has rejected direct talks with the US, and indirect talks about reviving a 2015 nuclear deal aimed at preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon were halted in June.
The US used intermediaries at the United Nations to make contact last month, Secretary of State Hossein Amirabdollahian told state television.
Iran has been unable to obtain tens of billions of dollars of its assets in foreign banks, mainly from oil and gas exports, due to US sanctions against its banking and energy sectors.
“The Americans tried to contact us through various channels (at the UN General Assembly) in New York, and I told the mediators that if America’s intentions are serious, some serious indication was needed… by at least Release $10 billion in blocked money,” the minister said.
“They are not willing to release $10 billion from the Iranian nation so that we can say that the Americans considered the interests of the Iranian nation once in the past few decades,” Amirabdollahian said in the TV interview.
Western powers have urged Iran to return to negotiations, saying time is running out as Tehran’s nuclear program extends far beyond the limits set by the deal.
Amirabdollahian reiterated that Iran would “soon” return to the stalled nuclear talks in Vienna, and declined to give a date.
Tehran says its nuclear steps are reversible if Washington lifts all sanctions. Iranian and Western officials have said many issues remain to be resolved before the accord can be revived.