Friday, 16 April, 2021

Launch indirect talks to revive nuclear deal

Abbas Araghchi political deputy at the Iranian foreign ministry arrives at the Grand Hotel in Vienna World powers, Iran, U.S. launch indirect talks to revive nuclear deal
Adrian Cunningham | 07 April, 2021, 05:22

The 2015 accord reached between the U.S., Iran, Russia, China, the UK, France, Germany and the European Union lifted sanctions on Tehran in exchange for curbs on that nation's nuclear program.

The two expert-level groups have been given the task of marrying lists of sanctions that the United States could lift with nuclear obligations Iran should meet, and reporting back on Friday, when the Joint Commission will meet again.

Biden says returning to the JCPOA is the best path to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, which his administration says is a USA foreign policy priority.

"Even though [the JCPOA] lasts quite some time and some of its provisions last forever, of course, it would be better, as in any arms control agreement, to see whether we could get a follow-on deal that extends the timelines", Malley explained. "The original formulation is one that still holds today: it's the limited lifting of sanctions, nuclear sanctions, in return for permanent and verifiable limits on Iran's nuclear program". While they're slated for one day, it could extend on, especially if the separate "working groups" make progress and bring in technical experts to finalize details on Iranian and USA compliance.

"The agenda of this [joint] commission meeting is the removal of all USA cruel sanctions against Iran, and in other words, clarification of how parties [to the deal] should fulfill their commitments", Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said on Monday.

"Lifting U.S. sanctions is the first and the most necessary action for reviving the deal", Araghchi was quoted as saying.

The Biden administration has also said it wants to build a "longer and stronger agreement" that would deal with other issues, including Iran's long-term nuclear programme, its development of ballistic missiles, and its support for proxy forces across the Middle East.

In the latest violation, Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for Iran's civilian nuclear programme, said officials had begun mechanical testing of an IR-9 prototype centrifuge. That centrifuge would enrich uranium 50 times faster than the IR-1 that is allowed under the accord, according to the semi-official ISNA news agency.

In late February, Iran began restricting worldwide inspections of its nuclear facilities.

World powers, Iran, U.S. launch indirect talks to revive nuclear deal
US, Iran move closer but stay apart in nuclear talks

Under the agreement, Iran will no longer share surveillance footage of its nuclear facilities with the IAEA but it has promised to preserve the tapes for three months. In addition, the talks will seek to define "sanctions relief steps" the USA will need to take to rejoin the deal.

On Tuesday, Russian diplomat Mikhail Ulyanov described the Joint Commission meeting as "successful". Otherwise, Iran has vowed to erase the recordings, narrowing the window for a diplomatic breakthrough.

"We are confident that we are on the right track, and if America's will, seriousness and honesty is proven, it could be a good sign for a better future for this agreement", Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei told reporters.

The small window for negotiation will make it even more hard for the USA to try to bring new concerns into the deal, such as Iran's regional influence and its ballistic missile programme. She said the administration continues to believe that diplomacy is the right path forward that benefits all sides.

"No Iran-US meeting. Unnecessary", he tweeted.

European intermediaries have started shuttling between Iranian and USA officials in Vienna as they seek to bring both countries back into full compliance with the accord that Washington abandoned three years ago, diplomats said.

Since neither side appears willing to make the first step, experts such as Vaez have suggested the negotiators could make a "gesture-for-gesture" deal to break the deadlock.

United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric, asked for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' reaction to the meetings, said: "We welcome all of these efforts by the JCPOA hold constructive dialogue".

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