US, Iran to start indirect nuclear negotiations in Vienna

Vienna — Returning the United States to the 2015 Agreement on Iran’s Nuclear Program as five world powers still in agreement with Iran were meeting in Vienna while the United States was planning to begin indirect negotiations with Tehran. Efforts strengthened gear on Tuesday.

Friday’s announcement that Washington and Tehran will begin indirect negotiations through intermediaries embodies efforts to bring the two countries back to the terms of an agreement limiting Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from the United States and international sanctions. It was one of the first signs of progress.

At that time, President Donald Trump unilaterally removed the United States from the agreement in 2018 and chose what he called the maximum pressure campaign to strengthen US sanctions.

Since then, Iran has steadily violated trading restrictions such as the amount of enriched uranium that can be stockpiled and the purity that can be enriched. Tehran’s move was calculated to put pressure on other countries in the deal, such as Russia, China, France, Germany and the United Kingdom, to offset US sanctions imposed under Trump.

President Joe Biden took office and returned to the agreement, stating that returning Iran’s nuclear program to international regulation is a priority. However, Iran and the United States disagree on Iran’s request to lift sanctions first.

Foreign ministry officials from countries that are still in agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, held the Presidency of the European Union in Vienna on Tuesday.

The Austrian capital also has a US delegation led by Rob Murray, a special envoy of the Iranian regime. State Department spokesman Ned Price said the negotiations would be centered around a working group formed by Europeans with the other parties to the agreement.

    Nuclear facility-arak
January 15, 2011, a heavy water nuclear facility near Arak, Iran. (ISNA, Hamid Foroutan / File / AP Photo)

Mr Price said the talks were a “healthy step forward” on Monday, but added that “we do not expect an early or immediate breakthrough as we fully expect these talks to be difficult.”

“At this point, we do not expect direct negotiations with Iran,” he said. “Of course, we remain open to them, so we need to see what happens.”

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Jabad Zarif wrote on Twitter on Friday: Not required. “

A statement issued after the parties to the agreement effectively met on Friday stated that the purpose of the meeting on Tuesday was to “clearly identify sanctions lifting and nuclear implementation measures, including convening a meeting of relevant expert groups. That is “.

In Tehran, Iran’s purpose remains “to lift all sanctions imposed or imposed on Iran,” even after government spokesman Ali Rabiee terminated the deal on Tuesday. Said there is. He said Iran “is ready to return to all our promises shortly after the US lifts sanctions in a complete and verifiable way.”

However, Iran continues to push beyond the limits set by the deal. Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for Iran’s private nuclear program, said authorities have begun mechanical testing of the IR-9 prototype centrifuge. According to the semi-official ISNA press, he said the centrifuge would concentrate uranium 50 times faster than the agreed-authorized IR-1.

Separately, Iran’s Foreign Ministry said it tried to insult and attack Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Arach after a man associated with an Iranian asylum group left a meeting with EU diplomats on Tuesday morning. Insisted. Viennese police said there was a protest outside the hotel, but they were not immediately aware of the “related incidents and physical conflicts.”

Prior to the meeting on Tuesday, Iranian prosecutors said 10 officials were indicted last year for the shooting down of a Ukrainian airliner by Iranian troops, which killed 176 people. Iran faced international criticism last month for releasing a final report accusing human error but no one appointed a person responsible.

By Geir Moulson and Alex Schuller