“We are all in Vienna to negotiate to reach a good agreement,” Hossein Amir-Abdollahian wrote in a post on his Instagram page on Thursday night, hours after a new round of talks kicked off in the Austrian capital between Iran and the five remaining parties to the nuclear deal.
“The Western parties need to know that in the last eight years, enough words and empty promises have been uttered, but today, it is time to act,” Amir-Abdollahian noted.
Since April, Vienna has been hosting negotiations on a revival of the nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which would require the US to remove its anti-Iran sanctions three years after Washington walked out of the JCPOA and slapped the bans on Iran to kill the deal.
Almost eleven months after Joe Biden was sworn in as president, the US still refuses to remove the sanctions, despite Biden’s pledge to undo the Iran policy of his predecessor, Donald Trump, and end his “failed maximum pressure” campaign.
Although the US withdrawal from the JCPOA and its sanctions, coupled with the three European parties’ submission to Washington’s illegal moves, prompted Iran to legally reduce its nuclear undertakings, the four countries have upped the ante in the talks, shifting the blame on Iran and voicing concerns over its nuclear measures.
Rejecting those concerns, Amir-Abdollahian said Iran’s nuclear program is completely peaceful, but added that there is a direct link between the removal of US sanctions and Iran’s decision to assuage the concerns.
“Although we doubt whether the Western side is ready to remove the sanctions or it only seeks to unilaterally ease its own concerns, we will certainly see quick progress in the talks if the Western side attends the negotiations with goodwill, initiatives, and constructive ideas,” the chief Iranian diplomat added.
Russia: Iran’s proposals must be properly discussed
Diplomats from the remaining parties to the JCPOA – Iran, Russia, China, France, Britain, and Germany – resumed the Vienna talks on Thursday, six days after the talks were paused so that the other side weighs Iran’s new proposals in their respective capitals.
Iran had offered them two draft texts which address, separately, the removal of US sanctions and Iran’s return to its nuclear commitments under the JCPOA. The country also said it was preparing a third draft text on the verification of the sanctions removal.
After laying out the proposals, Iran’s lead negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani said that Iran’s core demands as presented in the texts “cannot be rejected” and that Iran “will not backtrack on [those] demands,” but at the same time, a senior Foreign Ministry official suggested that the details of the proposed texts would be negotiable to demonstrate Iran’s flexibility at the talks.
After the Thursday meeting, Russia’s Mikhail Ulyanov, who leads the country’s negotiating team, said that Iran’s new proposals “must be properly discussed and thoroughly considered.”
“This is an edict in multilateral diplomacy,” he said via Twitter.
Meanwhile, Bagheri Kani voiced optimism after the resumption of the talks, telling reporters: “What I felt today was different from what I had felt last Friday.”
“I felt the other parties have more serious will to enter effective and result-oriented talks,” he noted.
Ulyanov also said that Iran showed “a great deal of pragmatism today at the [JCPOA] Joint Commission meeting.”
“The same is required from all other participants in the #ViennaTalks. Through joint pragmatic efforts we have a real chance to succeed,” Ulyanov tweeted.
Moscow slams US-Israeli drill as ‘destabilizing factor’
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov called for restraint after Reuters quoted a senior American official as saying that the Pentagon chief and Israeli minister for military affairs were expected to discuss possible military exercises in the region.
“In our opinion, they should understand that it is a certain destabilizing factor,” Ryabkov told reporters on Thursday when asked to comment on the report.
“Any training activity in such a volatile region carries the risk that it will entail complications. It’s not what the situation requires at the moment,” he said.
The senior Russian diplomat then called for the observance of “as much restraint as possible” while facilitating the Vienna talks.
The Pentagon has declined to comment on the Reuters report, with spokesman John Kirby telling a news briefing that “we routinely conduct exercises and training with our Israeli counterparts and I have nothing to announce to or speak to or point to or speculate about today.”
Back in 2018, Trump’s decision to tear up the JCPOA was urged on by the Israeli regime, which had once campaigned in vain to prevent the signing of the 2015 nuclear deal.