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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

US says Iran’s proposal’s ‘not constructive’ ahead of eighth round of talks this week


Negotiators returned for a seventh round of nuclear talks last week following a five-month hiatus.

The US said Iran’s proposal on the lifting of sanctions, presented during the latest round of talks in Vienna, were “not constructive” as negotiators head back to their countries for consultations.

“The first six rounds of negotiations made progress, finding creative compromise solutions to many of the hardest issues that were difficult for all sides. Iran’s approach this week was not, unfortunately, to try to resolve the remaining issues,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a press briefing on Friday.

“The new Iranian administration did not come to Vienna with constructive proposals,” added Psaki.

According to Reuters, the Iranian delegation, led by top negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani, proposed changes to the text in a draft agreement reportedly 70-80% complete during the previous six rounds of talks.

Iran accuses Israel of ‘trumpeting lies to poison’ nuclear talks in Vienna

European diplomats said those proposals were inconsistent with the JCPOA.

“Tehran is walking back almost all of the difficult compromises crafted after many months of hard work,” read a statement by European diplomats, as quoted by Bloomberg.

Meanwhile, Bagheri Kani said that it is “natural” for proposals to align with Tehran’s own views and interests.

“The important thing is that these proposals are based on principles that are also accepted by other parties,” said Bagheri Kani, as quoted by Al Jazeera.

Last week, and despite mounting tensions between the US and Iran, diplomats returned to Vienna on a positive note for talks aimed at restoring the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA] following a five-month hiatus.

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

The latest round of talks was the first to take place under Raisi’s administration, attended by diplomats from the p4+1 – China, France, Russia, the UK and Germany.

Western powers have been calling on Iran to decrease its nuclear activity, especially after it proceeded to enrich uranium at 60% purity in response to a series of attacks while the first rounds of Vienna talks were taking place earlier this year.

Tehran blamed the assaults on Tel Aviv, citing its opposition to the restoration of the JCPOA and keenness on maintaining economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

On Friday, senior officials from France, Britain and Germany said that Iran interrupted negotiations five months ago and accelerated its nuclear programme during that period.

They also stated that Tehran “back-tracked on diplomatic progress made”, while saying it demanded “major changes” to the text under the previous draft agreement.

Speaking to reporters in Dubai over the weekend, French President Emmanuel Macron hinted at involving countries outside the nuclear accord, including Gulf states, as he does not expect the current round of talks to succeed.

“I think it’s very difficult to find an agreement if the Gulf countries, Israel, all those whose security is directly affected, don’t take part,” said Macron.

When former US President Donald Trump withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018, he imposed stifling economic sanctions on Iran in a bid to apply what his administration described as “maximum pressure” on Tehran.

This created a state of mistrust from the Iranian side, which is demanding guarantees from the US that it will not back out of the deal again.

Washington also previously warned it would pursue “other options” if Iran does not reduce its nuclear activity. It also vowed to exert pressure on Tehran if it accelerates its nuclear programme during the current talks.

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