Vienna talks: Iran and world powers begin nuclear negotiations | Nuclear Energy News


Iran and the major world powers still party to a 2015 nuclear deal have begun official talks in Vienna, Austria as attempts to return the United States to the landmark accord intensify.

Talks are under way in the city’s Imperial and Grand hotels between representatives of Iran, China, Russia, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom.

For the first time since then-US President Donald Trump unilaterally abandoned the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May 2018, the US is also in the same town trying to save the accord.

But a US delegation led by special Iran envoy Robert Malley is not in the same room where the JCPOA Joint Commission meeting is taking place, as Iran has said it will not directly negotiate with the US until all harsh sanctions imposed by Trump and still enforced by President Joe Biden are lifted.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said Iran will immediately scale back its enrichment of uranium and deployment of advanced centrifuges after the country can verify US sanctions have been lifted, but is “in no hurry” as it is also trying to “nullify” sanctions through local production.

Iran’s delegation in Vienna, led by Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, also consists of representatives from the country’s central bank, the ministry of petroleum, and the atomic energy organisation as the sanctions primarily target Iran’s financial sector and oil transfer.

According to the Iranian foreign ministry, the Vienna talks include “technical negotiations in the form of expert meetings” in order to figure out how US sanctions can be lifted and how Iran can come back into full compliance with the deal.

Therein lies the complexity of the talks, which could be extended if negotiators make progress, as the layers of some 1,600 US sanctions have targeted a number of Iranian individuals and entities with multiple designations – including those on “terrorism” and human rights abuses.

Moreover, Iran has said it will under no circumstances accept a “step-by-step plan” and only expects the US to take the “final step” of lifting all sanctions.

The Iranian delegation landed in Vienna on Monday evening, and held bilateral talks with counterparts from China. More bilateral talks were conducted with representatives from Russia and the European signatories of the JCPOA.

Iran’s government spokesman Ali Rabiei on Tuesday said the country welcomes US special envoy Malley’s recent comments that Iran will need to enjoy the economic benefits it was promised under JCPOA in the form of sanctions being lifted.

“I can’t discuss further details but we eagerly await the implementation of this constructive stance and hope that at the end of talks under way in Vienna, we can reach a clearer representation of seriousness and honesty in implementation of commitments,” he told a press conference in Tehran.

Malley’s comments also dismayed senior officials in Israel, which fervently opposes the nuclear deal and any compromise with Iran, as they called the comments “very troubling”.

Meanwhile, conservatives and hardliners in Tehran, who have also opposed the accord and have been emboldened ahead of presidential elections in June – where moderate President Hassan Rouhani can’t stand again – are continuing their assertions in carving a role in the negotiations.

At least two lawmakers said Iran should require a minimum two-month period to verify the lifting of sanctions.

“If they have precise demands, such as the 3.67 percent [uranium] enrichment ceiling, we should have precise conditions,” Tehran representative Ehsan Khandoozi tweeted.

He named those conditions as 2.3 million barrels of oil per day in exports, the release of billions of dollars of Iranian money frozen outside the country, and $4bn worth of international transactions per month.

On Sunday, a number of lawmakers signed a public statement that said the implementation of any agreement over sanctions-lifting with the US would have to be approved by the parliament. 2021-04-06 14:33:47


This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More