Talks to salvage Iran nuclear deal resume in Vienna, Russian envoy says

FILE PHOTO: Iran nuclear talks enter day five
FILE PHOTO: Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS) Enrique Mora and Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani wait for the start of a meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission in Vienna, Austria December 3, 2021. EU Delegation in Vienna/Handout via REUTERS

December 9, 2021

By Parisa Hafezi and Francois Murphy

VIENNA (Reuters) – Talks to salvage the 2015 Iran nuclear deal formally resumed on Thursday with a meeting of the remaining parties except for the United States, Russia’s top envoy to the talks said on Twitter.

“The #JCPOA participants now hold an official meeting of the Joint Commission,” Mikhail Ulyanov tweeted, using the deal’s formal name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

The top U.S. envoy, Rob Malley, will not arrive until this weekend

The indirect U.S.-Iranian talks in Vienna, in which other diplomats from the remaining parties to the deal – France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China – shuttle between them because Tehran refuses direct contact with Washington, aim to get both sides to resume full compliance.

However, last week’s discussions broke off with European and U.S. officials voicing dismay at sweeping demands by Iran’s new, hardline government under anti-Western President Ebrahim Raisi, whose June election caused a five-month pause in the talks.

Western officials have said Iran has abandoned any compromises it had made in the previous six rounds of talks, pocketed those made by others, and demanded more last week.

“Iran will stand firm over its demands,” an Iranian official close to the talks told Reuters.

“All sanctions must be lifted at once in a verifiable process,” he said, adding that it was in the hands of the Americans to take a political decision for the deal to happen.

Under the 2015 accord struck by the Islamic Republic and six major powers, Iran limited its nuclear programme in return for relief from U.S., European Union and U.N. sanctions.

Then-President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the deal in 2018 and reimposed harsh U.S. sanctions, and Iran began violating the nuclear restrictions a year later.

Indicating that Washington may be losing patience, President Joe Biden’s administration is moving to tighten enforcement of sanctions against Iran with the despatch of a senior delegation to the United Arab Emirates next week, the U.S. State Department said as talks resumed on Thursday.

(Writing by John Irish in Doha; Editing by Alison Williams and Mark Heinrich)

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