Ali Bagheri Kani made the remarks while speaking to reporters on Thursday before leaving Vienna for Tehran after the negotiators declared a few days of recess on the occasion of the New Year holidays.
“The issue of sanctions removal was the main focus of the talks. Iran and the other side continued their negotiations on multiple issues, including a number of sessions on the verification of sanctions removal. The meetings were attended by both the coordinator of the joint commission of the JCPOA and the European side,” he said.
“Also, on the issue of verification, Iran held separate sessions with the coordinator of the joint commission and the three European signatories” to the JCPOA, he added.
“There was also some correspondence between the two sides on the issue of sanctions removal. Good progress was made during the first days of the eighth round,” he added.
Iran’s top negotiator also expressed hope that after a few days of recess over the end-of-year holidays, more serious work would be pursued on the issue of sanctions removal by the other parties.
“We hope more serious work gets underway on the issue of sanctions removal once the delegations return to negotiations after the New Year holidays,” he noted.
Iran and the P4+1 group of countries on Monday started the eighth round of the Vienna talks focused on the removal of all sanctions imposed on Tehran after Washington unilaterally withdrew from the agreement.
The US is not allowed to directly attend the talks due to its pullout in 2018 from the landmark deal with Iran, which is officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which took place three years after the accord was clinched by Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany in June 2015.
Russia: Agreement possible in first half of February
Meanwhile, the Russian ambassador to international organizations in Vienna also talked to reporters following the conclusion of talks on Thursday, saying that in his opinion an agreement could be clinched by participants in the Vienna talks before the end of February 2022.
“I believe it is doable to achieve an agreement in first half of February; maybe a little bit earlier or later; nobody can say precisely and accurately…. The most important thing is that we observe steady progress. It’s difficult but we move ahead,” Mikhail Ulyanov said.
The Russian diplomat added in a post on his twitter account that the eighth round of negotiations will resume on January 3.
“Informal consultations still continue within the framework of the #ViennaTalks. But time has come to take a New Year break. The 8th (not the 9th) round of negotiations on restoration of #JCPOA will resume on Monday, January 3,” Ulyanov tweeted.
One year after Washington’s exit from the deal and the failure of the European signatories to uphold their commitments under pressure from the US, Iran took a set of retaliatory steps away from the deal in several stages in line with its legal contractual rights.
With a new administration on office in the US, Washington says it wants to rejoin the deal, but it has been dragging its feet in removing the sanctions on Iran.
Tehran has been firmly insisting that the US must first remove the sanctions in a verifiable manner, give guarantees that it will not leave the agreement again, and compensate for all the damages inflicted on Iran due to its unlawful pullout.