US and Iranian officials said the first indirect talks in Vienna on Tuesday aimed at reviving the 2015 nuclear deal were “constructive”, and negotiations would continue this week as US President Joe Biden looks for ways to revive the deal.
“We see this as a constructive and definitely welcome step,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters in Washington.
“It is a potentially useful step as we try to determine what the Iranians are prepared to do to return to the strict constraints of the 2015 deal and, as a result, what we may need to do to return to compliance ourselves. he added.
US allies in the US, along with Russia and China, met in Vienna with representatives of Iran in the most powerful mission to revive Iran’s nuclear deal after former President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the agreement in May 2018.
After the closed meetings between the signatories to the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan (JCPOA), the Russian envoy Mikhail Ulyanov tweeted that the first talks were “successful”.
“The restoration of JCPOA will not take place immediately. It will take some time. How long? Nobody knows, “he wrote. “The most important thing after the Joint Commission meeting today is that the practical work to achieve this goal has begun.”
The Joint Commission meeting with #JCPOA was successful. Two expert level groups (on sanctions lifting and nuclear issues) were tasked with identifying concrete measures to be taken by Washington and Tehran to restore full implementation of the JCPOA. The groups started working immediately pic.twitter.com/RSw41D4Yix
– Mikhail Ulyanov (@Amb_Ulyanov) April 6, 2021
Iran has since constantly violated the restrictions set out in the deal, as well as the amount of enriched uranium it can store and the degree of purity with which it can be enriched. Tehran’s moves have been calculated to pressure other signatories to do more to compensate for the crippling US sanctions imposed under Trump.
Iran claims that since the United States first violated the deal with its withdrawal, Washington should also take the first step by lifting the sanctions.
Iranian state television quoted Iran’s negotiator Abbas Araghchi as echoing US statements, saying the talks were “constructive”. But Araghch insisted that the United States must lift sanctions before Iran makes any concessions.
“The lifting of US sanctions is the first and most necessary step to revive the deal,” he said. “Iran is fully prepared to turn its operations around and return to full implementation of the deal immediately after verifying that the sanctions has been repealed. ”
“Strong messages from all sides” at Iran’s nuclear talks
At the meeting, the participants agreed to set up two expert level groups, one to work to lift the sanctions and the other to work on nuclear issues.
They should start working immediately and report their conclusions to the main negotiators.
The ultimate goal of the deal is to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb, something it insists it does not want to do. Iran has now enriched enough uranium to make a bomb, but nowhere near the amount it had before the nuclear deal was signed.
In the latest violation, Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for Iran’s civilian nuclear program, said officials had begun mechanically testing an IR-9 prototype centrifuge. That centrifuge would enrich uranium 50 times faster than the IR-1 allowed under the agreement, according to the semi-official ISNA news agency.
The clock is ticking
The clock is ticking to try to get the United States back in business with the goal of returning Iran to compliance.
At the end of February, Iran began restricting international inspections of its nuclear facilities. However, during a last-minute deal drawn up during a trip to Tehran by Rafael Grossi, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog, some access was maintained.
Under the agreement, Iran will no longer share surveillance footage of its nuclear facilities with the IAEA, but has promised to preserve the tape for three months. It will then submit them to the IAEA if sanctions are granted. Otherwise, Iran has promised to delete the recordings and reduce the window for a diplomatic breakthrough.
The small window of negotiation will make it even harder for the United States to try to get new problems with the deal, such as Iran’s regional influence and its ballistic missile program.
( Jowharwith AFP, AP and REUTERS)