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Russia surprised by E3’s ‘illogical, destructive’ positions in Vienna talks

Russia has expressed surprise over the “illogical” positions adopted by the three European powers during the ongoing Vienna negotiations on the removal of US sanctions on Iran, saying Moscow does not understand the trio’s “destructive” stances and cannot thus support them.

The stances of the trio, namely France, Britain and Germany, “are surprising. It is as if it is their first time sitting down at the negotiation table. They tend to adopt some illogical positions,” Russia’s Permanent Representative to International Organizations in Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov said in exclusive interview with the Russian service of Iran’s Pars Today news agency published on Wednesday.

“At a meeting among Russian representatives, [US Special Envoy for Iran] Rob Malley and Chinese delegates, I made it clear that we do not practically understand what the Europeans say. Their stances are unconstructive and destructive. Our understanding of negotiations and diplomacy is different from theirs. We consider such standpoints as unconstructive,” he added.

Ulyanov said, “Our Iranian colleagues have presented their demands rather transparently and put forward their proposals in a written form. From Russia’s point of view, this is a step forward because neither a written agreement nor an official consensus was reached at the end of the previous six rounds of negotiations.”

The Russian envoy to the Vienna talks also highlighted that US officials are not allowed to the consultations in which Iran is present, and the reason is crystal clear.

“The Iranian side believes that Americans made a mistake by withdrawing from the JCPOA.  Therefore, direct talks and consultations with the US delegation are not on the agenda at all,” he said, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the official name of the nuclear accord.  

“The best solution would be for the final agreement to be passed in the parliaments of participating countries. This is, however, unlikely to be an easy job with the United States since neither the House nor the Senate would vote in favor of approving such an agreement,” the Russian official said.

“We can, therefore, think of political agreements as before. The US administration can only speak for itself, not the entire political establishment in the country. It cannot predict what would happen in the future. This is a very unfortunate fact for us,” the Russian diplomat said.

Ulyanov also slammed Washington’s so-called campaign of “maximum pressure” against Iran, stating that the approach has turned out to be completely unconstructive, has increased the sufferings of the Iranian nation and resulted in problems and humanitarian crises, but it has yielded no positive results even for the United States.

Since the beginning of the Vienna talks in April, France, Britain and Germany, also known as E3, have pressed Iran to return to full compliance with its nuclear obligations under the JCPOA, ignoring the fact that the talks are aimed at bringing the US – the only party that left the deal – back into the deal by removing its anti-Iran sanctions.

On Tuesday, Iran’s chief negotiator Ali Baqeri-Kani slammed Western parties over their insistence on playing a blame game against Tehran, advising them to pursue real diplomacy.

“Some actors persist in their blame game habit, instead of real diplomacy. We proposed our ideas early, and worked constructively and flexibly to narrow gaps,” said Bagheri-Kani on Twitter.

“Diplomacy is a two-way street. If there’s real will to remedy the culprit’s wrongdoing, the way for a quick, good deal will be paved,” he added.

The remarks came a day after British, French, and German diplomats said the major powers and Iran had not yet begun talks about salvaging the JCPOA, warning that the nuclear deal would soon become futile without progress.

Bagheri Kani had previously stated that the Iranian side has not received any constructive initiative or proposal from the opposite side during the ongoing Vienna talks.

The JCPOA was abandoned in 2018 by then-US president Donald Trump, who then went on to target Iran’s economy with what he called a “maximum pressure” campaign, which failed to compel Iran to negotiate a “new deal.”

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