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Thursday, September 16, 2021

US-Iran ‘likely’ to reach an agreement over JCPOA revival: Axios

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It has not been confirmed whether the fifth round of talks was the the last of the indirect US-Iran meetings in Geneva.

The US is likely to reach a deal with Iran to revive the 2015 nuclear deal as more progress is shown at the Vienna talks, Washington officials told Axios on Wednesday.

The US official said that while a deal is achievable within months, it will still require more compliance from Iran regarding its nuclear activity.

Diplomats involved in the talks are looking towards reaching a possible break in negotiations ahead of the Iranian presidential elections on June 18th, Axios reported.

The latest positive comments came following the fifth round of Vienna talks on May 25th, initially thought to be the date for the final meetings which kicked off in April with hopes to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA] following Washington’s 2018 withdrawal.

“The latest round of talks was constructive and saw meaningful progress. But much work still needs to be done,” tweeted Rob Malley, leader of the US delegation at the talks and Special Envoy for Iran, ahead of the fifth round.

Washington officials also told Axios that last week’s round of indirect US-Iran nuclear talks was the first in which progress was made in terms of sanctions relief and nuclear measures.

The US reportedly witnessed more flexibility from Iran’s side in the fourth round of talks, most notably through its decision to extend the nuclear inspections agreement with the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA], for another month following its expiry.

The three-month monitoring agreement was initially signed in February, when the head of the IAEA, Rafael Grossi, visited Iran to monitor its nuclear activities. The hopes were to lift the sanctions imposed by the US following Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the accord in 2018.

Meanwhile, in a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken promised to continue “close consultations” with Israel over its potential return to the nuclear accord JCPOA.

Following the meeting, Netanyahu said he hoped the US would not sign the deal again warning that “whatever happens, Israel will always retain the right to defend itself” against any Iranian nuclear threat.

“I hope that the United States will not go back to the old JCPOA, because we believe that deal paves the way for Iran to have an arsenal of nuclear weapons with international legitimacy,” said Netanyahu.

The fate of the restoration of the nuclear deal was put to test following the attack on the Natanz nuclear enrichment facility.

Read also: Blinken: US to continue consultations with Israel over return to nuclear deal

Citing its opposition to the return of the deal, Iran blamed Israel for the attack and swiftly retaliated by increasing its nuclear enrichment to 60%.

Since April, representatives from the countries involved in the nuclear deal– China, France, Russia, the UK and Germany—have been holding talks in Vienna in effort to reach a mutual US-Iran agreement.

Apart from the P5+1, Qatar has also offered to mediate between the US and Iran, saying that it will “spare no efforts” to ensure that the JCPOA is restored.


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