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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Iran says progress made at Vienna nuclear talks


Developing tensions between Iran and the US has raised questions over the revival of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA].

Talks aimed at restoring the 2015 nuclear accord are progressing despite an apparent pessimistic climate, officials at the negotiations told the press on Sunday.

“The two parties are at the point of agreeing on the matters which should be on the agenda,” Tehran’s chief negotiator, Ali Bagheri Kani told the Islamic Republic News Agency [IRNA] on Sunday.

Bagheri Kani noted that it was “a positive and important evolution” since the two parties have yet to reach an agreement on the issues to negotiate.

Russia’s representative at the talks Mikhail Ulyanov echoed the Iranian diplomat’s statements, saying that this week’s talks have been more constructive in comparison to last week.

“We are on the right track, we don’t waste time, we maintain dialogue, we arrange meetings at expert level, at higher level, like this one,” said Ulyanov, as quoted by Iran International.

The seventh round of talks in Vienna resumed on Thursday after negotiators from the p4+1 – China, France, Russia, the UK plus Germany – returned to their home countries for consultations.

The indirect US-Iran talks initially started in the Austrian capital in April this year to revive the 2015 nuclear accord, but adjourned following the sixth round in June. They were put on hold as Iran’s elections took place, which saw the victory of Ebrahim Raisi.

US warns ‘runway for negotiations getting short’ as nuclear talks resume

The US and Iran have been exchanging blame over willingness to restore the 2015 nuclear accord. The US has been accusing Iran of ramping up its nuclear programme as Tehran continues to demand the lifting of sanctions.

Commenting on the American side, Ulyanov noted that US President Joe Biden is “fully committed to successful conclusion of these talks”. He also said that the European Union’s External Service have been “doing a great job” at mediating between the US and Iran.

On Sunday, diplomats at the Group of Seven [G7] foreign ministers meeting in Liverpool  warned Iran that it was running out of time to return to the nuclear accord.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told the press that the current talks are Iran’s “last chance to come to the negotiating table with a serious resolution”.

Last week, the  US Treasury Department imposed fresh sanctions on several individuals and entities in Iran over “gross violations of human rights”, raising questions over the fate of he resumed talks.

Countries outside the P4+1 have been calling for the restoration of the nuclear deal and the maintenance of regional stability.

As a strategic US ally and top regional mediator, Qatar has previously said it will spare no efforts to restore the 2015 nuclear accord, calling on all sides to resume negotiations.

During the Qatar-US Strategic dialogue in Washington in November, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani stressed that having an unstable region does not serve anyone’s interest – whether in the GCC or US – and that he does not want to witness a “nuclear race”.

On Sunday, Sheikh Mohammed and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held a phone call in which they discussed issues of common concern and reviewed the latest developments in regional issues, including Iran.

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