RFL/RE – Talks to salvage the 2015 Iran nuclear deal are set to resume on December 27 in Vienna, with the chief EU negotiator calling for the pace of the talks to pick up and U.S. and Iranian officials expressing frustrations over substance.
EU diplomat Enrique Mora last week announced the date for the resumption of the talks on Twitter.
“Vienna talks to resume on Monday 27 December. The JCPOA Joint Commission will meet to discuss and define the way ahead,” Mora, who is chairing the negotiations, said on December 23, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action by its acronym.
“Important to pick up the pace on key outstanding issues and move forward, working closely with the U.S. Welcome to the 8th round,” he added.
The talks have made scant progress since they resumed in November after a five-month hiatus following the election of hard-line Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.
Diplomats from the parties still in the deal — China, Britain, France, Germany, and Russia — are taking part in direct talks with Iran. The United States has participated indirectly.SEE ALSO:U.S. National-Security Adviser Warns Iran Nuclear Diplomacy May Be Exhausted Within ‘Weeks’
An EU statement said participants would “continue the discussions on the prospect of a possible return of the United States to the [deal] and how to ensure the full and effective implementation of the agreement by all sides.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian last week said that European negotiators had presented no “new practical initiatives” and were not constructive in the last round.
“We do not see the position of some European countries as constructive, specifically that of France,” Iranian state media quoted Amirabdollahian as saying.
“When they say they are concerned about the progress of Iran’s nuclear program, we say out loud: ‘If you want to have your concerns addressed, then all sanctions must be lifted.’”
Diplomats from the three European countries involved said after the talks adjourned on December 17 that negotiators are “rapidly reaching the end of the road.” They have expressed frustration with Tehran’s new demands in recent weeks but pointed to “some technical progress” so far.
The Russian delegate to the talks, Mikhail Ulyanov, on December 26 pointed to an “encouraging” statement attributed to an unidentified source close to the Iranian delegation, who said the modality of the talks and an agenda had been agreed in the previous round and that the discussions could now “focus on content.”
Ulyanov retweeted the comment of the source, who said the parties were “coming with full force & will stay in Vienna as long as needed.”
The Russian delegate added: “To the best of my knowledge all other participants in the #ViennaTalks on #JCPOA proceed from similar understandings.”
The JCPOA limited Iran’s nuclear program in return for sanctions relief, but sanctions were reimposed after then-U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the accord in 2018. Tehran, which claims the country’s nuclear program is for civilian purposes only, reacted by gradually ramping up the program and enriching uranium well beyond the thresholds allowed in the agreement.
U.S. national-security adviser Jake Sullivan said last week that current diplomatic efforts aimed at reviving the deal may be exhausted within “weeks,” while the U.S. special envoy for Iran, Robert Malley, warned of a “period of escalating crisis” if diplomacy failed to restore the agreement.