Iran: Progress made in Vienna talks but issues remain
Iran and world powers have made significant progress during talks in Vienna to revive the 2015 nuclear deal but important issues still need to be resolved, the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Monday.
"Each round of talks in Vienna could have been the final round. We should not rush. We have made significant progress but key issues remain," Saeed Khatibzadeh told a televised weekly news conference.
Iran and the parties to the JCPOA – Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China – have negotiated in Vienna since April to work out steps that Washington and Tehran need to take on sanctions and nuclear activities in compliance with the nuclear pact, Reuters wrote.
On Monday, Iran’s chief negotiator Seyyed Abbas Araqchi held two separate meeting with Russian and Chinese delegations as well as delegates from the European trio and the European Union which is coordinating the talks.
During the trilateral meeting, Iranian, Russian and Chinese diplomats reviewed latest developments in the course of the Vienna talks.
Former US president Donald Trump ditched the deal three years ago and reimposed sanctions, prompting Iran to drop its nuclear commitments under the deal a year later in a gradual fashion.
Trump’s successor Joe Biden has said Washington will return to the pact if Tehran first resumes compliance with the JCPOA terms. Iran says the US must remove all sanctions before rejoining the pact.
"The United States has to decide once and for all whether it wants to continue the legacy of the previous administration," Khatibzadeh said, according to Press TV.
The spokesman stressed that Iran is not in a hurry for an agreement, even though it will not allow the negotiations to drag on.
"There has been no stalemate on the Vienna talks," he said, adding, “We proceed with the negotiations in Vienna with necessary care and meticulousness. Every round could have been the last, but because there remained some issues, they were extended to the next.”
Khatibzadeh said the ball is in Washington’s court to decide whether it wants to pursue the failed legacy of Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign or turn over a new leaf and return to its obligations under the JCPOA, which tasks the US with the removal of anti-Iran sanctions.
“If that happens, Iran’s response will be the full implementation of the JCPOA,” he asserted.
“All sanctions should be lifted and then it should be verified by Iran...then we will reverse our nuclear steps."
A regional diplomat, briefed by Western officials involved in the talks, said "an agreement that would clarify the obligations of Tehran and Washington to move forward" will be announced in Vienna this week.
On Sunday, Russia's representative to the talks said the current round of discussions is likely the “final” one.
“The fifth round of the Vienna talks on [the] JCPOA is underway. As of now, there are no plans for the sixth,” Mikhail Ulyanov tweeted.
‘JCPOA only solution on table’
Asked to comment on US officials’ growing call to “lengthen and strengthen” the JCPOA, Khatibzadeh said the only solution on the table is the 2015 deal.
“Instead of trying to appease the sworn enemy of the JCPOA, they’d better return to their commitments under [UN Security Council] Resolution 2231 and the JCPOA,” he said, making a reference to US officials’ consultations with Israel over the JCPOA.
“The only option and solution on the table is the JCPOA and the same JCPOA that was signed in 2015 … This is the best thing that the current US administration can think of,” the spokesman added.
Israel has done its utmost to torpedo the JCPOA since the deal was inked. It strongly supported Trump’s withdrawal from the historic pact and his maximum pressure campaign on Iran.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last week that Washington should avoid rejoining the JCPOA, claiming that the deal paved the way for Iran to develop nuclear weapons, an allegation that Iran has categorically rejected throughout years.
Netanyahu made the remarks in a joint press event with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who said the US would try to rejoin the JCPOA nevertheless, but added that the US and Israel continued to work together to counter what he claimed as “Iran’s destabilizing actions in the region.”
Source: Iran Daily