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Iran’s nuclear deal negotiations have resumed and the chair feels “positive”

Vienna (AP)

Vienna negotiators resumed talks on the revival of Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers on Monday, and since the Trump administration withdrew from the deal three years ago, the United States has been armed as in previous rounds. I participated in.

Expectations for rapid progress have subsided after Tehran’s tough new government has negotiated a pause of more than five months. However, European Union officials, who chair the talks, sounded a bright note after the first meeting.

EU diplomat Enrique Mora told reporters, “I’m confident that we can do something important in the coming weeks.”

All participants showed a willingness to listen to the new Iranian delegation’s position and “sensitivity,” Mora said. At the same time, he said, the Tehran team has revealed that they want to engage in “serious work” to revive the deal.

The remaining signatories of the nuclear agreement, formally known as the Comprehensive Joint Action Plan (Iran, Russia, China, France, Germany and the United Kingdom), convened at the luxury hotel Palais Coburg, where the agreement was signed six years ago. it was done.

A US delegation, led by Biden’s special envoy to Iran, Robert Malley, was staying at a nearby hotel and was briefed on talks by diplomats from other countries.

President Joe Biden has signaled that he wants to rejoin the talks. The final round was held in June with the aim of making Iran compliant with the agreement and paving the way for US rejoining.

“There is a sense of urgency to put an end to the suffering of the Iranian people,” Mora said, referring to the devastating sanctions that the United States re-imposed on Iran when it ended the deal.

“And there is a sense of urgency to put Iran’s nuclear program under the transparent scrutiny of the international community,” he said.

“What was standard in the first six rounds will be practice in these seven rounds,” Mora added. “There is nothing new in the way we work.”

The United States left the deal in 2018 under the “maximum pressure” campaign against then-President Donald Trump’s Tehran.

With the nuclear deal, Iran restricted uranium enrichment in exchange for lifting economic sanctions. Since the collapse of the agreement, Iran is now concentrating small amounts of uranium to a purity of up to 60%. This is a short step from 90% of the weapons grade level. Iran has also spun an advanced centrifuge banned by the Accord, whose uranium stockpile is now well beyond the limits of the Accord.

Iran claims that its atomic program is peaceful. However, US intelligence and international inspectors say Iran had an organized nuclear weapons program until 2003.

To make matters worse, even after Tehran has restricted access, UN nuclear inspectors will not be able to fully monitor Iran’s programs. Last week, the trip to Iran by the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, made no progress on the matter.

Russia’s chief representative, Mikhail Ulyanov, said he had “beneficial” informal talks with Iranian and Chinese officials on Sunday. He said the meeting was aimed at “a better understanding … Tehran’s latest bargaining position.” He tweeted a photo of the meeting on Monday, which Iran described as a preparatory session with members before joining the discussion.

A delegation appointed by Iran’s new president, Ebrahim Raisi, joined the negotiations for the first time. Iran has made the biggest demands, including asking the United States to unfreeze $ 10 billion in assets as its first goodwill gesture.

Ali Bergery, Iran’s nuclear negotiator, told Iran’s state television late Sunday that the Islamic republic “entered negotiations with serious will and strong preparation.” However, he warned, “Currently, we cannot predict the time frame for the length of these consultations.”

Meanwhile, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Katibuzade has suggested that if the United States agrees to “true lift sanctions,” it will be able to “receive a ticket to return to the room” in the nuclear negotiations. He also criticized a recent opinion piece written by British and Israeli foreign ministers, promising that he would “work day and night to prevent the Iranian government from becoming a nuclear power.”

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett warned that he saw Iran “trying to end sanctions instead of doing almost nothing” in a video address distributed to countries negotiating in Vienna.

“Iran doesn’t deserve rewards, bargains, or sanctions relief in return for their brutality,” Bennett said in a video later posted on Twitter. “I call on allies around the world. Don’t give in to Iran’s nuclear blackmail.”

After meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Liz Truss, Britain’s Foreign Minister Liz Truss called the meeting “the last opportunity for Iranians to come to the table.”

“We hope those discussions will go well,” Truss said. “But if they don’t work, all the options are in the table.”

In an interview with NPR broadcast on Friday, US negotiator Marie said the signs from Iran were “not particularly encouraging.”

Russia’s Ulyanov said there was pressure to move the process after a “very long pause.”

“The talks can’t last forever,” he tweeted on Sunday. “It’s clear that we need to speed up the process.”

EU official Mora said participants at the meeting on Monday agreed on a work plan for the next few days. Diplomats planned to discuss sanctions issues on Tuesday, followed by a meeting on Iran’s nuclear commitments on Wednesday.

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Associated Press writers Nacelle Karimi of Tehran, Iran, Jill Lawless of London, Frank Jordan and Gaia Morson of Berlin contributed to this report.

Iran’s nuclear deal negotiations have resumed and the chair feels “positive”

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