Iran: Vienna talks on JCPOA revival unlikely to conclude this week

Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi (Photo by AP)

Iran’s top nuclear negotiator has predicted that talks in Vienna between Tehran and other signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal on a potential revival of the accord are unlikely to conclude this week.

Speaking to IRIB news agency after a meeting of the Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (​JCPOA) in Vienna Saturday, Abbas Araqchi said that the negotiations are not tied to the June 18 presidential election in Iran.

“For us, the criterion is to move in the direction of fulfilling the demands of the Islamic Republic. We do not set a date for ourselves as to when we will arrive or not [at an agreement] ... We will continue the talks as long as they take time and we deem them necessary in order to achieve what we desire. The discussions will continue without wasting time or letting others waste time," he added.

Araqchi said, "Personally, I do not think we can reach a final conclusion this week."

"My guess is that at least once again the conclusion of the negotiations should be transferred to the capitals. I do not think we will reach a final conclusion in this round of the talks.”

The remarks came as envoys from Iran and the P4+1 group of countries — Britain, France, Russia, and China plus Germany — began the sixth round of the Vienna talks aimed at revitalizing the JCPOA and bringing the US back to compliance.

An American delegation is also in the Austrian capital, but it is not attending the discussions because the United States is not a party to the nuclear accord.

Former US president Donald Trump abandoned the deal and reimposed the anti-Iran sanctions that the JCPOA had lifted. He also placed additional sanctions on Iran under other pretexts not related to the nuclear case as part of the “maximum pressure” campaign.

Following a year of strategic patience, Iran resorted to its legal rights stipulated in Article 26 of the JCPOA, which grants a party the right to suspend its contractual commitments in case of non-compliance by other signatories, and let go of some of the restrictions imposed on its nuclear energy program. 

Now, the new US administration says it wants to compensate for Trump’s mistake and rejoin the deal, but it is showing an overriding propensity for maintaining some of the sanctions as a tool of pressure.

Tehran insists that all sanctions should first be removed in a verifiable manner before the Islamic Republic reverses its remedial measures.

Araqchi said the United States must take the first step, and fulfill all its obligations first.

"Then, the Islamic Republic of Iran will verify, and later we will return to our commitments. This is the criterion of our work, but we need a timetable.”

He said the opposite sides are standing at a point where they have to make their own decisions.

“The Islamic Republic took its tough decision when it opted to stay in the JCPOA in the face of the US pullout from the deal. Now, it is the turn of the other sides to make their tough decisions,” he said.

Russia: Draft document won’t be finalized by June 18 

In a post on his twitter account, Russia’s representative to the international organizations in Vienna said that a draft document would not be finalized by June 18.

“Fully agree that we can’t expect the finalization of the ViennaTalks in the days to come. It is almost for sure that we will not be able to clean up the draft final document by the day of the Presidential elections in #Iran (June 18). Nevertheless an agreement is within reach,” Mikhail Ulyanov wrote.

China urges US to ‘stop shilly-shallying’

The twitter account of the Permanent Mission of China to the United Nations and other international organizations in Vienna said Ambassador Wabg Qun “stressed that the United States should stop shilly-shallying by moving decisively to complete & thorough sanction-lifting. The relevant parties should also take effective measures to avoid repeat of withdrawal of JCPOA or re-imposition of sanctions.”

“Amb. Wang: Iran’s concerns about sanction-lifting are legitimate. The U.S. should first remove all illegal unilateral sanctions on Iran & third parties. Conventional weapons embargo against Iran, which is inconsistent w/ the JCPOA & relevant #UNSC resolutions, should also be removed,” the tweet read.

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