Iran’s Rouhani says talks in Vienna on bailout deal open “new chapter”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday that talks in Vienna on rescuing a troubled nuclear deal in 2015 had opened a “new chapter”.

An Iranian delegation met on Tuesday with representatives of the remaining parties to the agreement to discuss how to bring Washington back to it and end crippling US sanctions and Iranian countermeasures.

US President Joe Biden has said he is ready to reverse the decision of his predecessor Donald Trump to withdraw from the agreement and reintroduce unilateral sanctions.

But differences remain over the mechanics of the movement as Tehran has since responded by interrupting compliance with some of its own obligations under the deal.

The United States was not present at Tuesday’s talks because Iran has refused to meet with the US delegation as long as its sanctions remain.

Instead, the European Union acted as an intermediary, but all parties gave a positive assessment of initial talks.

“A new chapter has just opened yesterday,” Rouhani said at a government meeting on Wednesday.

“If (Washington) shows that it is honest and sincere, that’s all we ask … I think we will be able to negotiate in a short time, if necessary, with (other parties to the deal).”

In Washington, State Department spokesman Ned Price said the United States still believed “this is a constructive forum”.

“The talks so far have been business-like and they are doing what we thought they would do,” Price told reporters.

“They give us a better understanding of Iran’s thinking and we hope that in turn Tehran will leave this round of talks with a better understanding of what we can be prepared to do.”

The US delegation has established itself at another hotel in Vienna, where EU negotiators are acting as intermediaries.

At the same time, two groups of experts – to lift sanctions and nuclear issues – are working “to identify concrete measures to be taken by Washington and Tehran” to re-establish the deal, said Russian envoy Mikhail Ulyanov.