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Iran after Vienna talks: US, P4+1 must take tough decisions on remaining issues

Iran’s top nuclear negotiator says certain important issues still remain to be hammered out by Tehran and its partners in the 2015 nuclear deal before they can reach an agreement on a potential revival of the accord, stressing that the onus is now on the US and the other co-signatories to make “difficult decisions” for that to happen.

“All in all, we made good progress, but there are issues left [unresolved], without which an agreement couldn’t be reached, and which have yet to be decided,” Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi told reporters at the end of the fifth round of talks between Iran and P4+1 group of countries on revitalizing the deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), on Thursday.

“It is not us but…the signatories to the JCPOA and the United States that must…take their own difficult decisions and adapt themselves to the positions of the Islamic Republic,” Araqchi said. “If this happens, we can naturally reach an agreement. Otherwise, we will either have no agreement or hold more consultations.”

Following 10 days of intensive talks, the negotiating delegations concluded that they needed to return to their capitals once again for almost week-long consultations, the Iranian diplomat said, adding that this round of negotiations was not halted but was just adjourned in order to reach better conclusions about the remaining unsolved issues. 

“Nothing can be predicted in diplomatic negotiations by 100 percent. Rationally, the next round of talks could be the final one,” he said.

He added that the five parties to the JCPOA – Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China – and the United States had to make their “difficult decisions” and adapt their positions to those of Iran.

“It is important that we have held several discussions about the main points of difference. There are solutions to each of them, which should be discussed and the best one should be selected,” Araqchi said.

He once again insisted on the country’s “definitive positions” which had not been changed and stressed the importance of adopting strategies for the US return to the JCPOA and the fulfillment of its obligations as per the deal as well as Iran’s assumption of commitments after verifying Washington’s moves “in a way agreed upon by the two sides and in a way that it would serve our interests.”

He said the negotiating teams have completed drafting texts pertaining to different parts of the talks and are making their stances closer “almost in most of the texts…but there are some key issues, which the [two] sides have yet to decide.

Since April, representatives from Iran and the P4+1 group of countries have been holding talks in Vienna aimed at revitalizing the JCPOA and bringing the US back to compliance.

The US has sent a delegation to Vienna but it is not attending the JCPOA Joint Commission talks directly as Washington is no longer a party to the deal. It has, however, held separate talks with the other parties to the JCPOA.

The US, under former president Donald Trump, left the JCPOA in 2018 and returned the sanctions that had been lifted against Tehran as part of the agreement.

President Joe Biden has said Washington is willing to return to the pact if Tehran first suspends its countermeasures taken in response to US violations and reimpostion of sanctions.

Iran says the onus is on the US to revive the deal as it was Washington, not Tehran, that left the internationally recognized accord in defiance of global criticism.

Iran’s legitimate concerns should be properly addressed: China

Following the Vienna talks, the Chinese envoy said on Wednesday that Iran’s legitimate concerns should be properly addressed during the Vienna talks.

Wang Qun, the Chinese envoy to the United Nations and other international organizations in Vienna, pointed to important progress made so far in the negotiations, but said there are some key differences on issues related to the lifting of the sanctions.

He added that the primary topic of the sanctions removal has not been settled in the talks, which have dragged on for more than two months, saying this fact shows that the issue of right and wrong has not yet been fundamentally resolved.

 “There is almost total clarity on US sanctions against Iran, which are to be lifted,” Ulyanov said. “A list of nuclear-related steps that Iran must take to return to its nuclear commitments [in the nuclear deal] is nearly approved.”

He added that the vision of how those measures will be implemented is taking shape.

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