Wed, 19 Jan 2022

Talks to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal are due to resume in Vienna on November 29, and Iran's chief negotiator said they likely will set the framework and time period for the negotiations.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri spoke with Iranian news media on November 28 after meeting with the heads of the Chinese and Russian delegations and EU mediator Enrique Mora.

'The timing of this round of talks cannot be predicted,' Bagheri said. "It is likely that the framework and time period of this dialogue period will be determined."

The talks will involve the partners still in the deal: Iran, China, Russia, Germany, France, and Britain. The U.S. delegation, headed by Rob Malley, the U.S. special envoy for Iran, will participate indirectly.

The talks are to resume after a five-month hiatus amid growing Western concerns over Iran's nuclear advances.

Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia's ambassador to the UN in Vienna, said on Twitter on November 28 that the 'informal consultations' between China, Russia, and Iran ahead of the formal talks were useful for a "better understanding of the updated negotiating position of #Tehran."

He noted the 'very protracted pause' in an earlier tweet, saying the talks can't last forever. "There is the obvious need to speed up the process,' he said.

SEE ALSO: IAEA Chief Issues Warning Over Iran's Inspection Curbs At Nuclear Facility

The deal constrained many aspects of Iran's research program, which Iran has always maintained was for peaceful purposes, while opening it to greater scrutiny from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN's nuclear watchdog. In return, many nuclear-related economic sanctions were lifted.

But then-President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the accord, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, in 2018 and reimposed the sanctions, despite Iran's compliance with the deal.

In response, Tehran has gradually breached limits imposed by the pact, including on uranium enrichment, refining it to higher purity, and installing advanced centrifuges.

Trump's successor, President Joe Biden, has pledged to rejoin the deal if Iran returns to full compliance.

Six rounds of indirect negotiations in Vienna that began in April failed to reach agreement and the talks were put on hold in June after Iran elected anti-Western hard-liner Ebrahim Raisi president.

The main sticking points center around Tehran's demand for a broad lifting of U.S. sanctions and technical nuclear details about how Tehran will return to compliance.

The EU has said that participants in the talks "will continue the discussions on the prospect of a possible return of the United States to the JCPOA and how to ensure the full and effective implementation of the agreement by all sides.'

The U.S. State Department said on November 3 that Washington hopes Tehran returns to the talks ready to negotiate and in good faith. Washington still believes it is possible to quickly reach and implement an understanding on a mutual return to compliance with the pact, State Department spokesman Ned Price said then.

The head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council has said the United States must offer guarantees that it will not again abandon the nuclear accord in order to ensure the success of the talks to revive it.

With reporting by Radio Farda, AFP, BBC, and dpa

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Washington DC 20036

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