The US State Department said on Friday that the US had agreed talks next week with European, Russian and Chinese partners to identify issues related to its return to Iran’s nuclear deal in 2015, almost three years after Donald Trump pulled the US out of the deal.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Ned Price called the resumption of negotiations, scheduled for Tuesday in Austria, “a healthy step forward”. But Price added: “These remain early days, and we do not expect an immediate breakthrough as there will be difficult discussions in the future.”
The agreement on the opening of multi-party talks – which is being held to get Iran and the US over their differences on the terms of the return to the nuclear agreement in 2015 – came after talks on Thursday between other countries in the agreement.
Trump pulled the United States out of Iran’s nuclear deal in 2018, and President Joe Biden has said that re-accession to the agreement is a priority for his administration. The Biden administration and Iran differ on the terms of this, including the timing of the lifting of US sanctions on Iran.
‘No Iran-US meeting. Unnecessarily’
However, Iran has ruled out any indirect talks with the United States, or a step-by-step lifting of sanctions proposed for next week’s meeting.
“In line with the unchanging guideline of Iran’s (supreme) leaders, all results of [talks] that would be based on the idea of gradually removing sanctions or indirect negotiations with the United States will not be acceptable, “Iranian state-run Press TV quoted an unnamed source.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Friday immediately stressed that no meeting was planned between officials from Iran and the United States.
In a tweet, Zarif said the goal of the Vienna session would be to “quickly complete sanctions and nuclear action for the choreographic removal of all sanctions, followed by Iran ending corrective action. No meeting between Iran and the United States. Unnecessary,” he added.
At the virtual JCPOA JC meeting, Iran and EU / E3 + 2 agreed to resume personal talks in Vienna next Tuesday.
Purpose: To complete rapidly sanctions and nuclear measures for the choreographic removal of all sanctions, followed by Iran’s cessation of corrective measures.
No meeting between Iran and the United States. Unnecessarily.
– Javad Zarif (@JZarif) April 2, 2021
Working groups set up by Europeans
Diplomats had said earlier on Friday that officials from Tehran and Washington would travel to Vienna next week as part of efforts to revive the 2015 agreement.
Price said talks would be structured around working groups that the European Union will form with the remaining participants in the nuclear deal, including Iran.
The main issues to be discussed are nuclear power steps that Iran would need to take to return to the terms of the nuclear power pact, and the sanctions that the United States would need to take to also return to compliance, the statement said.
“We do not currently expect direct talks between the United States and Iran through this process, although the United States remains open to them,” Price said.
Talks begin in Austria on April 6.
“The road ahead will not be easy”
Russia’s ambassador to international organizations in Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov, said that “the impression is that we are on the right track, but the way forward will not be easy and will require intensive efforts. Stakeholders seem ready for that”.
Each return of the United States would involve complications.
Iran has constantly violated the restrictions of the transaction, as well as the amount of enriched uranium it can store and the purity it can enrich it. Tehran’s moves have been calculated to put pressure on the other nations in the deal – Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain – to do more to compensate for the crippling sanctions imposed under Trump.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has said that over the past two years, Iran has amassed a wealth of nuclear material and new capabilities and used the time to “hone its skills in these areas”.
As part of its ongoing violations of the Joint Action Plan, Iran last month began restricting IAEA inspections of its nuclear facilities. However, during a last-minute deal drawn up during a trip to Tehran, some access was retained.
Under the interim agreement, Iran will no longer share surveillance of its nuclear facilities with the IAEA, but it has promised to preserve the tape for three months. It will then hand them over to the Vienna – based UN nuclear watchdog if it is granted sanction relief. Otherwise, Iran has promised to erase the tape, which reduces the window for a diplomatic breakthrough.
( Jowharwith AP and REUTERS)