Iran, world powers try to fill loopholes in ongoing talks in Vienna | Nuclear energy news
Tehran, Iran – Talks continue in Vienna to restore the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal with world powers, but a final deal still seems elusive as Iran and the West have divergent views on the way forward.
After a week-long hiatus, representatives from Iran, China, Russia, the UK, France and Germany met again in the Austrian capital to resume their seventh on Thursday. round of talks.
Robert Malley, the highest representative of the United States – who unilaterally abandoned the deal in 2018, imposing sanctions on Iran – is expected to lead a delegation in Vienna this weekend.
Iran still refuses to meet with the United States directly since its withdrawal from the agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), even as President Joe Biden says he wants it be restored.
A breakthrough in the talks does not appear to be in sight yet as differences remain on two texts Iran proposed last week – one on the lifting of sanctions and the other on measures Iran needs to take to reduce its nuclear program, which has advanced considerably since 2019.
EU signatories to the deal and the United States have said Iranian demands – which build on a text agreed upon when the sixth round of talks concluded on June 20 – are maximalist and show the country is not serious about going back to the deal.
The previous text had been negotiated under the administration of moderate President Hassan Rouhani, but the government of conservative President Ebrahim Raisi wants – as the European Union’s envoy said last week – that its “new political sensitivities” are also taken into account.
In a meeting with Iran’s ambassadors in neighboring countries on Saturday, Raisi said strengthening ties with neighbors to fight sanctions is a “strategic step” for Iran, but added that the country is also “serious” in the Vienna negotiations.
“If the other side is willing to lift the sanctions, a good deal will be made and we are definitely after that good deal,” he said.
Iran, which calls for the total lifting of all US sanctions imposed since 2018, has signaled in recent days that its text proposals have not changed since last week.
The country has previously said it has also prepared a third document, detailing its expectations over a period to verify the lifting of sanctions and ensuring that the United States will not back down on the deal again. She indicated that she would present this document once there was agreement on the two initial texts.
“I felt the other side [European representatives] found a more serious will to start effective and results-oriented talks, ”Iran’s chief negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani told reporters after Thursday’s joint committee meeting.
Bagheri and the Iranian Foreign Ministry also condemned the United States for ramping up existing sanctions as talks continue as the Biden administration on Tuesday announced new sanctions against two Iranian security organizations and several officials responsible for them. are linked.
According to a Wall Street Journal article, the United States will also soon be sending a delegation to the United Arab Emirates to discourage transactions with Iran that are “not in accordance” with its sanctions. The report also says the United States is working closely with financial firms in Japan and South Korea to end “illicit” Iranian trade.
Meanwhile, U.S. Representative Malley told Al Jazeera before traveling to Vienna that the Biden administration “favors the diplomatic route” with Iran, but is also ready to consider any other options that come up. offered to her. It comes as the United States also tries to allay Israeli concerns that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett sent his Defense Minister Benny Gantz and new Mossad chief David Barnea to Washington this week amid renewed Israeli threats of a military strike against Iranian nuclear sites.
Iran maintains that it will never seek a nuclear weapon, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has confirmed that Iran does not enrich uranium to the 90% purity required for a bomb.
In an interview with Al Jazeera, however, IAEA chief Rafael Grossi said Iran needs to grant more access to its inspectors in order to build confidence as the Vienna talks continue.
A centrifuge parts production facility in Karaj is of particular concern to the agency because it has not had cameras since June, when a sabotage attack hit Iran, blamed on Israel. The nuclear watchdog “categorically” denied the possibility that its cameras were being used to aid in the attack.
“The agency and Iran are trying to come to an agreement on basically two things: one is the agency’s ability to return to a specific facility in Iran where we have to relocate the cameras that need to be there, and it was hard to do that. We talked about it, ”Grossi told Al Jazeera.
“And the other thing is how to approach a number of issues, which need to be clarified. The agency found traces of nuclear material in places that had not been previously declared.
As the Vienna talks resumed, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) also dispatched a delegation to meet with the IAEA on the outstanding issues.