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Concerned JCPOA parties react positively to Vienna talks

A number of concerned parties to the 2015 nuclear deal have reacted to the recent Vienna talks on the revival of the troubled agreement, with China urging the US as the “offending party” to lift its sanctions against Iran so that Tehran can reverse the retaliatory measures it has been taking since Washington’s withdrawal.

Wang Qun, China’s envoy to the United Nations and other international organizations in Vienna, spoke to reporters on Tuesday after a meeting between representatives of Iran and the other remaining signatories to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany.

Wang said in a statement that the US’s withdrawal from the JCPOA in 2018 and its so-called maximum pressure campaign against Iran is the root cause of the current situation, adding that America’s early return to the accord is the key to settling the problem.

“The justified request of the injured party, rather than the offending party, should be confirmed and satisfied first. This is a basic right-or-wrong question. The US should lift all sanctions against Tehran and on this basis, Iran can resume full compliance to the nuclear deal,” he added.

Wang also stressed that China firmly opposes any unilateral bans imposed by the US on other countries and will safeguard its legitimate rights and interests.

Washington, he stressed, should end its “long-arm jurisdiction” against third-party entities and individuals, including those from China.

During the Vienna meeting, envoys from Russia, China, Germany, France, Britain and Iran agreed to establish two expert-level working groups, one to work on the lifting of sanctions and the other to work on nuclear issues.

A US delegation headed by the administration’s special envoy for Iran, Rob Malley, was also in the Austrian capital, but it was not attending the talks.

Elsewhere in his comments, Wang said that China supports the JCPOA Joint Commission’s efforts in setting up working groups and hopes that they can make progress as soon as possible.

China continues to unswervingly uphold the JCPOA, he said, expressing hope that all the JCPOA parties can enhance their sense of urgency, seize the current opportunities, and push the deal back on track through fair and reasonable negotiations.

The envoy further pledged that China will work with all parties to advance the political settlement of Iran’s nuclear issue and strive to restore the full implementation of the agreement as early as possible.

Similarly, China’s Ambassador to Tehran Chang Hua tweeted, “The US should return to the deal unconditionally, and lift all illegal sanctions against Iran and long-arm jurisdiction over a third party.”

EU hails ‘constructive’ meeting in Vienna

Additionally on Tuesday, Enrique Mora, the deputy of European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell who chaired the Vienna meeting, described the event as “constructive.”

Russia vows to make every effort for JCPOA revival

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said his country will make every effort to find mutually acceptable solutions for the restoration of the JCPOA.

Speaking to Russia’s Sputnik news agency, Ryabkov emphasized that he agrees with the US that the process of reviving the nuclear deal will not be easy.

“First of all, because there is no trust between Tehran and Washington … But even without this, since the process of moving away from the initially set parameters of the JCPOA has gone far enough, the return requires a lot of political will,” he said.

Iran believes that the JCPOA can be easily restored if Tehran and Washington agree on what measures they need to take, and then the sides can implement them promptly, he added. “I admit that this is so, but in order to reach this milestone, great efforts are required.”

Vienna talks potentially useful step: US

Commenting on the Vienna meeting, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said, “We do see this as a constructive and certainly welcome step.”

“It is a potentially useful step as we seek to determine what it is that the Iranians are prepared to do to return to compliance with the stringent limitations under the 2015 deal and, as a result, what we might need to do to return to compliance ourselves,” he told reporters in Washington.

Separately, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, “I think — we expect that, as I conveyed yesterday, that a big part of the conversation will be how Iran can come back into compliance and what would be required of the United States.  But we’ve been clear that we are not taking — not anticipating any steps at this moment. We’ll allow the negotiations to continue.”

France welcomes Vienna negotiations

A spokesperson for the French Foreign Ministry welcomed the resumption Iran nuclear talks in Vienna, saying, “The ongoing negotiations should allow [the participants] to soon reach an agreement on the actions necessary to bring Iran and the United States back to full compliance with the nuclear agreement.”

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