Talks to salvage Iran nuclear deal quietly resume in Vienna
By Francois Murphy
VIENNA – Iran-US indirect talks on bailing out Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers resumed on Tuesday after a 10-day hiatus, but envoys have barely revealed whether they will were closer to resolving various thorny issues.
Delegates say the talks have made limited progress since resuming in November after a five-month hiatus prompted by the election of hardline Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.
Negotiations gained momentum last month, but a number of vital issues remain unresolved and Western powers say there is little time left before Iran’s nuclear advances render the 2015 deal limiting them. The envoys returned home 10 days ago to ask their political bosses to make decisions to speed things up.
As officials from Iran, the United States, Russia, China, France, Germany, Britain and the European Union began to meet in different formats On Tuesday, it was not immediately clear how much progress had been enabled by political decisions.
Talks coordinator Enrique Mora declined to comment to reporters as he crossed the road between two luxury hotels hosting talks on a windy day in Vienna, where talks began 10 months ago. A few hours later, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Bagheri Kani, arrived for talks.
“After a short break, the 8th round of #ViennaTalks is resuming,” Iran’s Mission to the United Nations in Vienna posted on Twitter, along with a photo of Bagheri Kani meeting Mora.
The 2015 deal imposed restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities that extended the time Tehran would need to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear bomb, if it so desired, to at least a year from now. about two to three months. Most experts say the time is now shorter than when the deal was made.
Iran denies seeking nuclear weapons.
Then-President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the deal in 2018, reimposing punitive US sanctions on Iran’s economy that cut its vital oil exports.
Iran has responded by violating and vastly exceeding many of the restrictions in the deal, enriching uranium to near weapons-grade and using advanced centrifuges to do so, which has helped hone his skills in operating these machines.
Iran has insisted that since the United States pulled out of the deal, it’s up to Washington to take the first step by agreeing to lift sanctions and guaranteeing it won’t pull out again. Western officials say they are looking for a solution where both sides act in a coordinated manner.