Nuclear talks with Iran – US sends intermediaries


The new US administration wants to return to the nuclear deal with Iran – under certain conditions. But time is pressing, in Tehran the hardliners could be in power again in the summer.

The talks to save the Iran nuclear deal and a possible return of the USA are to go into a new round on Tuesday in Vienna. This was announced by Iran and the EU on Friday after a video conference between the remaining contracting parties Germany, France, Great Britain, China, Russia and Iran. US representatives are also to come to Vienna. But at most indirect contacts through intermediaries are planned.

US officials would speak to European, Russian and Chinese partners about the issue, said US State Department spokesman Ned Price. “We don’t expect an immediate breakthrough because difficult discussions are ahead. We think this is a real step forward, however.”

For Iran, direct talks with the US are currently not possible, according to diplomatic circles. Tehran is very firm in this stance. “I assume that the talks will be difficult,” said a European diplomat. Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi told the Isna agency about the online conference on Friday: “The negotiations were conducted seriously and openly.” All sides wanted to make the nuclear agreement of 2015 functional again and not waste any time. The Vienna talks would take place at expert level.

The time window for talks is threatening to close

Former US President Donald Trump stepped out of the agreement in May 2018, which is supposed to prevent Iran from building a nuclear bomb. In return, the West should reduce trade restrictions. As a reaction to the failure of the West to implement its commitments, Iran has been violating the conditions in the contract step by step since 2019, including higher uranium enrichment and uranium metal production.

Trump’s successor Joe Biden has promised a return to the treaty, but is first demanding that Iran fully comply with the requirements. For its part, Tehran insists that the sanctions imposed by Trump be lifted first. The window of opportunity is threatening to close because Iran will have presidential elections in June. President Hassan Ruhani cannot run again after two terms.

Maas: “We have no time to lose”

The EU Foreign Service rated the online meeting on Friday positively. The participants had recognized the prospect of a US return to the agreement and underscored their willingness to address this positively together, it said in a statement. The participants also assured that they would receive the agreement called JCPOA. They would have discussed the options to fully implement it again.

According to the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin, Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said: “We have no time to lose. A fully respected agreement would increase security for the entire region and the best basis for discussions on other important issues of regional stability.”

USA rely on indirect talks

The US State Department had welcomed the meeting of the remaining international contracting parties with Iran in advance. Spokesman Ned Price said on Thursday (local time): “We have been making it clear for weeks that we are ready to return to honoring our commitments under the JCPOA if Iran does too.” One looks for the best way to achieve this through small mutual steps. They also rely on indirect discussions with the help of the European partners.

Iranian President Ruhani stressed again this week that the US could return to the deal “within a day” and lift the sanctions against Iran. In that case, Iran would again comply with its obligations in the 2015 treaty, said the Iranian President.

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