Iran nuclear talks resume in Vienna after 5-month break

Iran and world powers kicked off their talks in Vienna on Monday following a five-month break in a last-ditch attempt to restore the 2015 nuclear accord.

Diplomats of Iran, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the UK convened at the luxury hotel Palais Coburg at 1300GMT amid dim expectations for an agreement.

Messages will be communicated to US diplomats as the Iranian side again refused to hold direct talks since the US is no longer a member of the nuclear deal.

Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Bagheri Kani, said his country had what he labelled a “serious will,” namely in ensuring the lifting of US sanctions during the new round of Vienna talks, according to Iran’s official IRNA news agency.

Kani added that this round of talks will focus on the removal of sanctions; thus, a specified time could not be predicted for the seventh round of negotiations in Vienna.

He pointed out the Monday meeting will dwell on discussing the outlook of this round of talks and a timetable will be announced later.

Meanwhile, Russia’s top negotiator Mikhail Ulyanov reiterated in an exclusive interview with IRNA that he firmly believes that reaching an agreement is feasible in this round of negotiations.

The Russian diplomat added he was optimistic about the current round of talks in Vienna.

Referring to lingering differences between Iran and the Western powers, Ulyanov said: “It is the task of diplomats to overcome differences and difficulties.”

The Russian official said he is “optimistic” and believes that it will be “disastrous” if these processes fail to succeed.

“It might have very extremely negative consequences for everybody. So our task is preventing negative threats and overcoming them and bringing the negotiations to the successful conclusions,” IRNA quoted Ulyanov as saying in Vienna.

Several informal rounds of talks, including a trilateral meeting between Iran, China and Russia, and another between Kani and the EU’s Enrique Mora, were held on Sunday to set up the main negotiations.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as Iran nuclear deal, was signed in 2015 by Iran, the US, China, Russia, France, the UK, Germany, and the EU.

Under the agreement, Tehran has committed to limit its nuclear activity to civilian purposes and in return, the world powers agreed to drop their economic sanctions against Iran.

However, the US, under then President Donald Trump, unilaterally withdrew from the agreement in 2018 and re-imposed tough sanctions on Iran, prompting Tehran to stop complying with the nuclear deal.

Both Tehran and Washington continue to maintain their tough positions. While Iran wants the removal of all US sanctions and guarantees given by Washington not to abandon the agreement again, the US is calling for Iran to comply with its commitments.

Earlier this month, Kani, who is also Iran’s deputy foreign minister, visited London, Paris and Berlin to resolve the nuclear impasse.

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