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Top negotiator: US, all JCPOA parties serious in efforts to revive Iran deal

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Abbas Araqchi, political deputy at Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, leaves the Grand Hotel Wien after the closed-door nuclear talks in Vienna, Austria, on May 07, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

Iran’s top negotiator says all the parties concerned with the 2015 nuclear deal and the United States — a former signatory — are “serious” in efforts to revive the landmark agreement, and that the negotiations will continue until all of Iran’s demands are met.

Speaking after a session of talks in the Austrian capital of Vienna, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, who heads Iran’s delegation to the negotiations, briefed media on the latest developments regarding the fate of the deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“Today, the Joint Commission [of the JCPOA] convened for the first session in the new round of negotiations,” said Araqchi. “The working groups on sanctions and nuclear [issues] will start their activities in the evening.”

He said what could be inferred from the first session is that all sides are serious in pursuing a solution to revive the JCPOA.

The Vienna negotiations are attended by representatives of Iran, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany. American delegates are also present in the Austrian capital, but they are not allowed to participate in the negotiations since Washington is no longer a signatory to the deal following its unilateral exit in 2018.

“The news that we receive from the side of the Americans is that they are also serious in returning to the JCPOA and have, until now, expressed readiness to lift a large part of the sanctions, which is still not complete yet in our view,” Araqchi said. “That is why the talks will continue until all our demands in this regard are met.”

He added that the new round was started with “positive energy,” expressing hope that the delegations could reach conclusions in the shortest time possible.

“The challenges and differences are not small and should thus be put to talks in order to come up with solutions for them,” Araqchi said.

The senior diplomat reaffirmed Iran’s readiness to resume its full implementation of the deal as soon as its demands are fulfilled.

He said there will be no pause in the negotiations, which will be held at the level of experts and within the working groups set up in the previous rounds of the talks in Vienna, adding, that “the Commission would reconvene whenever it is necessary.”

The impasse revolving around the JCPOA stems from the US’s unilateral withdrawal in May 2018, which was followed by a campaign of “maximum pressure” meant to choke off the Iranian economy, mainly the banking and oil sectors.

Besides re-imposing the anti-Iran sanctions lifted by the JCPOA, the US under ex-President Donald Trump targeted the Iranian nation with several sets of additional bans under new pretexts and labels.

Now, with Trump gone, the new US administration under President Joe Biden says it seeks to rejoin the deal, but it has so far refused to take meaningful action to regain Iran’s trust and come back to compliance.

The Vienna process, which has been underway since early April, is aimed at finding a way out of the dispute and get the JCPOA back on track.

The three groups set up in the earlier rounds have been assigned to prepare a list of the sanctions that the US should remove and the measures that Iran must take in order to reinvigorate the JCPOA.

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