VIENNA (AP) – Officials from five world powers launched a new effort Tuesday to try to bring the United States back to the 2015 fundamental nuclear deal they signed with Iran, a delicate diplomatic dance to balance concerns and concerns. the interests of Washington and Tehran.
The meeting in Vienna of envoys from Russia, China, Germany, France, Britain and Iran came as the United States had to begin its indirect talks with Iran. This will be one of the first signs of tangible progress in efforts to return the two countries to the agreement, which limits Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from US and international sanctions.
Following the closed-door meetings of the signatories to the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan, Russian delegate Mikhail Ulyanov wrote on Twitter that the initial talks were “successful”
“The recovery of JCPOA will not happen immediately. It will take some time. How long? Nobody knows, “he wrote. “The most important thing after today’s meeting of the Joint Commission is that practical work has begun to achieve this goal.”
In 2018, then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from the agreement, opting for a maximum pressure campaign that included reinstated and additional US sanctions.
Since then, Iran has repeatedly violated restrictions on the deal, such as the amount of enriched uranium it can store and the purity with which it can be enriched. Tehran’s moves have been calculated to put pressure on other countries in the deal to do more to offset the crippling US sanctions reintroduced under Trump.
US President Joe Biden, who was vice president at the time of Barack Obama when the initial deal was negotiated, said he wanted to return the United States to the JCPOA, but that Iran must rectify its violations.
Iran claims that the United States violated the deal first by withdrawing, so Washington must take the first step by lifting sanctions.
Following the meeting in Vienna, Iranian state television quoted Iranian negotiator Abbas Arachi as saying that the message was repeated during the initial round of talks.
“The lifting of US sanctions is the first and most necessary action to revive the deal,” Aragci said. “Iran is fully prepared to reverse its activities and return to full implementation of the deal as soon as it is confirmed that the sanctions have been lifted.”
At the meeting, the participants agreed to set up two expert-level groups, one on lifting sanctions and one on nuclear issues, which were “tasked with determining concrete measures that Washington and Tehran must take to restore full implementation of the JCPOA”, Ulyanov tweeted.
They must start work immediately and report their findings to the main negotiators.
The ultimate goal of the deal is to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb, something he insists he does not want to do. Iran now has enough enriched uranium to make a bomb, but it is not close to the amount it had before the nuclear deal was signed.
In the latest violation, Burroughs Kamalvandi, a spokesman for Iran’s civilian nuclear program, said officials had begun mechanical tests on a prototype IR-9 centrifuge. This centrifuge will enrich uranium 50 times faster than the IR-1 allowed under the agreement, he said, according to the semi-official news agency ISNA.
The watch is beginning to try to get the United States back in the deal in order to bring Iran back in line with a number of issues that need to be addressed.
In late February, Iran began restricting international inspections of its nuclear facilities, but a last-minute deal made during a trip to Tehran by Rafael Grossi, head of the Vienna-based UN nuclear surveillance service, retained some access.
Under the agreement, Iran will no longer share surveillance footage of its nuclear facilities with the IAEA, but has promised to keep the tapes for three months. It will then hand them over to the IAEA if released from sanctions. Otherwise, Iran has promised to delete the recordings, narrowing the window to a diplomatic breakthrough.
In March, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also called on the United States to act swiftly, noting that as his country’s June elections approach, Washington will deal with a government that cannot make progress in nuclear talks.
In addition, one of the main so-called JCPOA clauses, the UN arms embargo against Iran, expired last year, and others should expire in the coming years.
The small negotiating window will make it even more difficult for the United States to try to raise new concerns in the deal, such as Iran’s regional influence and its ballistic missile program.
Although not involved in the JCPOA negotiations, a US delegation led by the administration’s special envoy to Iran, Rob Mali, was also in the Austrian capital.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said the delegation was there to hold talks structured around working groups formed by Europeans.
Price said Monday that the talks were a “healthy step forward”, but added that “we do not expect an early or immediate breakthrough, as these discussions, as we fully expect, will be difficult”.
“At the moment, we do not expect direct talks with Iran,” he said. “Although, of course, we remain open to them. And so we will have to see how things go. ”
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Tuesday that it was important to have US diplomats on the ground in Vienna, although they would not hold direct talks with Iran.
“I think it’s important to convey to our partners … that we believe diplomacy is the best step forward,” Psaki said.
On Friday, Zarif reiterated Iran’s position that no further JCPOA talks are needed, as the deal and its parameters have already been agreed.
“There is no meeting between Iran and the United States. Needless, ”he tweeted.
The JCPOA Joint Commission was expected to meet again on Friday, and meanwhile Enrique Mora, a European Union official who chaired the talks, said he would address all countries individually.
“As a coordinator, I will intensively share contacts here in Vienna with all relevant countries, including the United States,” he wrote on Twitter.
Asked about the reaction of Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to the meetings, UN spokesman Stefan Dujarric said: “We welcome all these efforts by JCPOA participants … to have a constructive dialogue. We hope that this is the first step in the right direction. “
Writers for the Associated Press Geir Moulson in Berlin, Jon Gambrell in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations and Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran.