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Iran’s Top Negotiator: 500 US Sanctions Still Remain after 5 Round of Talks

Iran's top negotiator and Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araqchi said the US is still adamant to remove 500 sanctions after 5 rounds of talks between Tehran and the Group 4+1 (China, Russia, Britain and France plus Germany) in Vienna.

Araqchi attended a meeting of the Iranian parliament’s Foreign Policy Committee to brief the lawmakers on the results of the last 5th round of the talks.

Ebrahim Azizi, a member of the Iranian parliament Foreign Policy Committee said after the meeting with the top Iranian negotiator, that “during the meeting, Araqchi presented a report to the committee on the fifth round of Vienna talks.”

“The sixth round of talks between Iran and the G4 + 1 is scheduled to begin this Saturday,” Araqchi was quoted by Azizi as saying.

“At the end of the fifth round of talks, the deputy foreign minister announced that out of 1,500 nuclear sanctions against Iranian bodies and individuals, 1,000 sanctions had been lifted and 500 sanctions are remaining. In addition, primary and secondary sanctions still remain in place,” Azizi said.

The Iranian lawmaker further challenged the previous optimism expressed by the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani about the talks, saying that the president’s promises to lift the sanctions have not been fulfilled in the talks yet.

He cited Araqchi as saying that no mechanism had been outlined to verify the Western powers’ abidance by their commitments, so no one can claim that the talks have yielded any results.

“The National Security Committee emphasizes that the negotiations should continue in such a way as to guarantee Iran’s nuclear reversibility as it is Iran’s leverage in the negotiations,” Azizi said.

Last Thursday, Araqchi had said that a number of key issues still remain to be settled between Iran and the Group 4+1 in Vienna talks, stressing that the other side should take difficult decisions to revive the nuclear deal.

“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,” Seyed Abbas Araqchi told reporters at the end of the fifth round of talks between Iran and G4+1 group of countries on revitalizing the deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“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,” he said, adding, “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.”

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