Only indirect talks in Vienna: New struggle for the future of the nuclear agreement


Only indirect conversations in Vienna
New struggle for the future of the nuclear deal

In his election campaign, US President Joe Biden held out the prospect of a possible return to the nuclear deal with Iran. Now he is one step closer to that promise. The JCPOA is to be renegotiated in Vienna – but diplomats expect “difficult talks”.

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 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.

For Iran, direct talks with the US are currently not possible, according to diplomatic circles. Tehran is very firm in this stance. “I expect the talks to be difficult,” said a European diplomat. Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi told the Isna agency about the online conference: “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.

A possible return to the nuclear deal

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, among other things, reduce restrictions on trade. 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.

The EU Foreign Service rated the online meeting 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.

Time is running out

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.”

The US State Department had welcomed the meeting of the remaining international contracting parties with Iran in advance. Spokesman Ned Price said: “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.” Look for the best way to do 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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