Iran, US launch indirect talks to salvage nuclear deal

Lawrence Kim
Апреля 7, 2021

Iran re-started banned nuclear work after former US President Donald Trump pulled out of the deal and re-imposed sanctions on Iran.

"We don't anticipate an early or immediate breakthrough". Neither side expected any early breakthrough.

Price said Monday he sees the talks as a "healthy step forward".

Malley's remarks came as parties to the 2015 deal - including the United States and Iran, as well as British, French, and German representatives - gathered in the Austrian capital for a multi-day round of talks, with the latter delegations facilitating indirect talks between the Americans and Iranians.

The remaining parties to the deal briefly met at a Viennese hotel for preparatory talks in the Austrian capital, where the pact was originally reached in 2015.

At the meeting, participants agreed to establish two expert-level groups, one on the lifting of sanctions and one on nuclear issues, which were "tasked to identify concrete measures to be taken by Washington and Tehran to restore full implementation of JCPOA", Ulyanov tweeted. But Iran and the USA have disagreed over Iran's demand that sanctions be lifted first. It will take some time. "How long? Nobody knows", Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia's Vienna-based envoy to worldwide organisations, wrote on Twitter, referring to the pact by its acronym.

"Whether the joint commission's agenda produces a result or not depends on the Europeans and the 4+1 [world powers] reminding the United States of its obligations and the Americans acting on their commitments", Iran's spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in Tehran.

The US officials attending the meeting in Austria will sit in a different place to Iran and the remaining members of the "P5+1" group of world powers - China, France, Germany, Russia and the UK.

Enrique Mora, the European coordinator for the talks, also called the meeting "constructive", vowing to "intensify separate contacts" with all relevant parties, including the U.S., to get the deal back on track.

The US delegation, headed by special envoy Rob Malley and sanctions expert Richard Nephew, are based in a nearby hotel. "Getting back into the deal is very much, in our estimation, in the interest of the United States and of its citizens", Malley told NPR radio Tuesday.

The Biden administration has aimed to restore the previous status quo, eroded by rising tensions between the USA and Iran and their proxies in the Middle East.

US special envoy for Iran Rob Malley will lead the delegation, which will meet with European, Chinese and Russian counterparts. The plan required Iran to scale back its nuclear program and severely downgrade its uranium reserves in exchange for sanctions relief, including lifting the arms embargo five years after the deal's adoption. Iran now has enough enriched uranium to make a bomb, but nowhere near the amount it had before the nuclear deal was signed.

"The US has so far failed to honor @POTUS campaign promise to rejoin the JCPOA. So this opportunity shouldn't be wasted", he said on Twitter.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters, has demanded sanctions be lifted all at once and rejected proposals that would lift them gradually.

Diplomats said Tuesday's talks could continue for several days to resolve some of the easier issues.

The clock is ticking on trying to get the United States back into the deal with the goal of returning Iran to compliance.

But especially amid fierce pressure in Washington and from regional allies like Israel, a renewed nuclear deal would still leave a long road ahead for the Biden administration, which seeks to "lengthen and strengthen" the original agreement, including by addressing Iran's support for proxy forces across the region and its ballistic missile program.

"We are encouraged by the resumption of talks and urge the Biden administration to engage in the diplomatic efforts needed to restore constraints on Iran's nuclear program urgently and rejoin this worldwide agreement".

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