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Iran Welcomes Possible Iraqi Mediation in Nuclear Talks

By Nigar Bayramli February 15, 2023


Iran’s Foreign Ministry's Spokesman Nasser Kanani during his weekly press conference on February 13, 2023. / IRNA news agency

Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Nasser Kanani has said Tehran welcomes the possible mediation by Iraqi officials in the efforts to revive the Iranian nuclear deal.

“If the Iraqi government wants to play a role in this field, we will use the capacities of the Iraqi government in this regard,” Kanani said on February 13, according to the Iranian state-run IRNA news agency.

He made the remarks while answering a question about a phone call between the Iranian and Iraqi foreign ministers before the visit of a senior US delegation to Saudi Arabia.

In a phone conversation on February 11, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and his Iraqi counterpart Fuad Hussein discussed bilateral ties and steps related to the “lifting of the sanctions,” a term used to refer to the nuclear talks between Iran and world powers. The phone talks came following the Iraqi foreign minister’s meeting with US Foreign Secretary Antony Blinken in Washington on February 9, and amid White House’s decision to prevent Iran from using Iraq’s banking ties with the United States to launder US dollars and circumvent Washington’s sanctions.

Meanwhile, the delegation led by US Special Envoy for Iran, Rob Malley, is on visit to Saudi Arabia to participate in the US-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Working Group meetings on February 13-16, which focuses on “integrated air and missile defense, maritime security, Iran and counterterrorism.” 

Previously, Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein met Malley in Washington, where the sides discussed regional developments, particularly the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), mainly known as the 2015 nuclear deal.

“The US is an important ally, and Iran is an important neighbor, with whom we share many common interests, including a border, religion, culture, economics and trade,” Hussein said, adding that “I hope both sides will start talking to each other again, but that’s their decision.”

In September 2022, the Iranian foreign minister said several foreign ministers, including his Iraqi counterpart, had conveyed messages from the US to Iran regarding the nuclear deal over the past few months.

Since the current wave of anti-government protests engulfed Iran in September, the Biden administration has announced that talks to revive the nuclear deal are not their priority anymore. Considering the international outcry over the Islamic Republic’s crackdown on dissent and human rights violations as well as the growing military ties between Tehran and Moscow, the prospects of saving the JCPOA are dimmer than ever.