In what looks to be yet another serious obstacle in the way of the prospect of jump starting Iran nuclear negotiations with world powers in Vienna, which have been stalled since June, and prior to Ebrahim Raisi taking office, Iran is asking the Biden administration to immediately unfreeze some $10 in Iranian assets.
Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian called it a necessary "sign of good will" to show that the American side is "serious" about returning to the Vienna process.
"The Americans tried to contact us through different channels (at the U.N. General Assembly) in New York, and I told the mediators if America's intentions are serious then a serious indication was needed ... by releasing at least $10 billion of blocked money," the Iranian foreign minister said in a weekend interview.
Billions in its foreign-held assets have been effectively blocked for a couple years since Trump-era sanctions targeting the Islamic Republic's international assets took effect. Amir-Abdollahian argued in his comments that at least "once" the US has to show its ready to consider "the interests of the Iranian nation."
"They are not willing to free $10 billion belonging to the Iranian nation so that we can say that the Americans once in the past several decades considered the interests of the Iranian nation," he explained.
Earlier last month the FM had vowed that Iran is ready to return to the negotiating table "very soon" but said the recently installed Raisi government is still "reviewing" the negotiation files.
#Iran's foreign minister's ask of US to release $10 billion in frozen funds did not go down well with #Germany's foreign ministry. Its spokesman is saying today "Iran cannot set any further conditions for resuming the talks." 1/2https://t.co/CQgtdHUT7S— Jason Brodsky (@JasonMBrodsky) October 4, 2021
So far the US State Department has kept mum on the Iran FM's weekend plea to unfreeze assets. It's not likely to happen given Biden is already facing pressure from Republicans and would be accused of "caving" to the mullahs in Tehran if he were to unfreeze the requested billions.
It's also unlikely that Washington would allow the Iranians to set what appear as belated pre-conditions for deeper talks, giving possible leverage to move the goal posts further.