Iran says progress has been made in nuclear talks, but key issues remain Politics
DUBAI – Iran and six world powers have made significant progress in talks to revive their 2015 nuclear deal, but important issues still need to be resolved, the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Monday.
Iran and the powers have been negotiating in Vienna since April to work out measures Tehran and Washington must take on nuclear sanctions and activities to return to full compliance with the nuclear pact.
“Each round of talks in Vienna could have been the final round. We must not rush. We have made significant progress but key issues remain,” Saeed Khatibzadeh said at a weekly televised press conference. “There is no deadlock in the talks.”
After former US President Donald Trump abandoned the deal three years ago and reimposed sanctions on Iran, Tehran replenished stockpiles of enriched uranium, enriching it to higher levels of fissile purity and installing advanced centrifuges to speed up production.
Iran’s top nuclear negotiator doubted the talks would be the last round, and delegations might need to return to their capitals for consultations.
“The negotiations are very complex and we have now reached the main points of the dispute,” Abbas Araqchi said on Vienna state television.
Iran’s reversal of its various violations of the agreement, and its enrichment with advanced centrifuges and uranium metal production, are some of the remaining problems, according to sources familiar with the talks.
US President Joe Biden has said Washington will revert to the pact if Tehran first resumes complying with its strict limits on uranium enrichment, a potential route to nuclear bombs.
“All the sanctions should be lifted and then they should be verified by Iran … then we will reverse our nuclear steps,” Khatibzadeh said.
Seeking a path to the deal, Washington tiptoes through a minefield laid by Trump. Iran-related sanctions have been imposed on more than 700 entities and individuals, according to a Reuters tally of actions in the US Treasury.
Iran demands that all sanctions imposed under Trump – those related to its nuclear program and non-nuclear sanctions such as those related to terrorism, missile development and human rights – be lifted.
“This is one of the key issues that has slowed the talks. All sanctions, whether nuclear or not, imposed by Trump should be lifted,” an Iranian official told Reuters.
Trump has blacklisted some 20 institutions vital to the Iranian economy, including its central bank and national oil company, using U.S. laws designed to punish foreign actors who support terrorism or arms proliferation.
Its decision to blacklist the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGCs) and its foreign paramilitary and spy wing of the Quds Force as a foreign terrorist organization also complicated matters.
The IRGC is also an industrial empire whose political influence is expected to grow after the Iranian presidential election in June, when an extremist president close to the elite is expected to prevail.
(Additional reporting by François Murphy in Vienna and Arshad Mohammed in Washington Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Giles Elgood)