Iran nuclear talks halt and will resume in Vienna next week
Diplomats negotiating in Vienna to revive the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal with world powers have taken a break after five days of talks to consult with their governments and will resume next week, officials said on Friday.
The European Union official chairing the meeting said there had been progress, but further “convergence” was needed.
“We have identified the challenges ahead. Now is the time to consult the capitals, ”European diplomat Enrique Mora told reporters. “We will resume here in Vienna next week.”
“We have significant challenges to overcome, time is not unlimited, there is a clear sense of urgency,” he added. “But above all, we need some policy convergence to start negotiations.
The so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, has actually been on life support since the United States withdrew from President Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran in 2018.
The other signatories to the nuclear deal – Iran, Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain – gathered at the Palais Coburg, a luxury hotel where the deal was signed six years ago. The deal strictly limited Iran’s enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.
A US delegation led by the Biden administration’s special envoy to Iran, Robert Malley, was staying at a nearby hotel and being briefed on the talks by diplomats from other countries.
The Iranian delegation, appointed by new Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, this week called on the United States to release $ 10 billion in assets as a first gesture of goodwill.
Mora said relaunching the deal would require Iran to live up to its commitments under the deal and bring the United States back to “full compliance,” meaning Washington would have to drop crippling economic sanctions it he imposed on Tehran.
Asked what had been achieved this week, Mora said there had been progress “in the sense that we have had a new Iranian delegation, they have entered into negotiations with other delegations”.
“We are also incorporating new political sensitivities for the new Iranian delegations,” he said. “But again, the starting point, the middle ground, is where we ended” in the last round of talks in June.
In the United Arab Emirates, French President Emmanuel Macron expressed doubts over the success of the troubled new round of negotiations with Iran, but added: “This does not mean that negotiations will not restart, and soon.” .
“I think everyone is aware of the importance of continuing to discuss not only the nuclear deal but other regional issues,” Macron said during his visit to Dubai on the first day of a two-way trip. days in the Gulf.
France, along with Germany and the UK, believe the 2015 nuclear deal, with some minor tweaks, remains the best way forward with Iran. Israel and Gulf countries like the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia opposed the deal.
Since the collapse of the deal, Iran has started enriching small amounts of uranium up to 60% purity; military grade uranium requires levels of 90%. Iran also makes advanced centrifuges banned by the deal, and its uranium stockpile now far exceeds the limits set in the deal.
The International Atomic Energy Agency, which monitors the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program, reported on Wednesday that Iran had taken steps to enrich uranium to 20 percent purity at an underground nuclear facility in Fordo where all enrichment activists were supposed to cease.
Iran maintains that its atomic program is not designed to produce weapons. U.S. intelligence agencies and international inspectors say Iran had an organized nuclear weapons program until 2003.
IAEA inspectors are unable to fully monitor the Iranian program because Tehran has restricted their access to its sites.