Iran sees “relatively satisfactory progress” in the Vienna nuclear talks

Iran sees “relatively satisfactory progress” in the Vienna nuclear talks

The chief Iranian negotiator, Ali Bagheri, said that the talks to revive the nuclear agreement had achieved “relatively satisfactory progress” during the past days, in statements Thursday, on the eve of a three-day break in talks.

On Monday, Iran and the parties still involved in the agreement regarding its nuclear program, with indirect US participation, began an eighth round of talks to revive the 2015 agreement, from which Washington unilaterally withdrew after three years.

Tehran stresses the priority of lifting the economic sanctions imposed by Washington in the aftermath, and obtaining guarantees that the US withdrawal will not be repeated.

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On the other hand, the United States and the European parties (France, Britain and Germany) are focusing on the importance of Iran’s return to fully respecting its commitments under the agreement, which it began retracting from in 2019 in response to Washington’s withdrawal.

Also participating in the discussions are Russia and China, which are part of the agreement, and the European Union, which is coordinating.

“Written proposals were exchanged between the various parties regarding lifting the sanctions, and relatively satisfactory progress was achieved during the first days of the eighth round of talks,” Bagheri said, according to a video released by the Iranian “Tasnim” agency on Thursday.

In response to a question about whether he considers the talks positive now, he said, “Yes.” “We hope that after the rest days until the end of the calendar year, more serious work will be pursued by the various parties on the issue of lifting sanctions,” he added.

On Monday, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian stressed the importance of guarantees and lifting sanctions for Iran, in a way that would allow it to restore normal economic relations with various international parties, especially in the field of oil export and benefit from its revenues.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said Tuesday that “there may be some modest progress that has been made” during the previous round, adding, “But one way or another, it’s too early to say to what extent this progress was substantive.”

He considered that “any progress achieved does not amount to Iran’s accelerating nuclear steps.”

European Coordinator Enrique Mora confirmed that there is a “clear will to work towards a successful end to these negotiations,” adding, “We will work very seriously in the coming days and weeks. It will be difficult.”

The three European countries also reaffirmed the “urgency” to complete the negotiations in light of Iran’s increase in the pace of its nuclear activities, especially uranium enrichment by 60 percent.

The agreement set the enrichment ceiling at 3.67 percent. The agreement allowed for the lifting of economic sanctions imposed on Iran, in exchange for limiting its nuclear activities and ensuring the peacefulness of its programme. However, its effects have become null and void since former US President Donald Trump decided to unilaterally withdraw his country from it in 2018, re-imposing severe sanctions.

President Joe Biden, who succeeded Trump in early 2021, expressed his willingness to return his country to the nuclear agreement, but only on the condition that Tehran once again complied with its inclusions.

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