Iran has said it is ready for more prisoner exchanges after last week’s swap of an Australian-British academic accused of spying for Israel, for three Iranian bomb plotters accused of planning an attack against Israeli diplomats.
“We can always engage in that, it is in the interests of everybody,” Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Thursday, during the Mediterranean Dialogues diplomatic conference in Rome.
“Iran is ready to reciprocate. We can do it tomorrow. We can also do it today.”
It follows Iran’s release last week of Melbourne University lecturer Kylie Moore-Gilbert, 33, who had been serving a 10-year sentence at the country’s Qarchak prison after being detained on spy charges in 2018 as she was leaving Tehran.
Her freedom was in return for that of Iranians Saeed Moradi, Mohammad Khazaei and Masoud Sedaghat Zadeh, who were jailed in Thailand after their botched attack on Israeli diplomats in Bangkok in 2012, during which Moradi blew off his own legs when he reportedly hurled a grenade at police.
As well as appearing open to more prisoner swaps, Zarif also called on the US to return to the 2015 JCPOA Iran nuclear deal, which President Donald Trump withdrew from in 2018, adding that Iran would comply if the US met its commitments.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed between Iran and China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK and US, limits Iran’s nuclear program in return for sanctions relief.
Zarif accused the Trump administration of behaving like a “phantom regime” by violating the agreement and said Tehran would not re-negotiate the deal if Joe Biden becomes president, in response to being asked if a new deal could cover Iran’s ballistic missile program.
In another swing at Washington, Zarif accused the US of a “crime against humanity” over its “hampering” of Iran’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic by allegedly preventing Tehran from purchasing doses of a vaccine.
Last month Iranian health minister Iraj Harirchi said that US sanctions had prevented some five million doses of a purchased flu vaccine reaching the country after they were blocked at an airport and could not be cleared and exported to Iran.
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