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Russia: Vienna talks seek to restore JCPOA in original form, nothing more, nothing less

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)
Russia’s Permanent Representative to International Organizations in Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov arrives at the Grand Hotel Wien, April 6, 2021. (File photo by AP)

Russia’s lead negotiator at the Vienna talks on the revival of Iran nuclear deal says the aim of the negotiations is to restore the 2015 deal in its original form, rather than adding or removing anything to and from the historic agreement that was reached between Iran and six world powers.

“The agreed aim of the #ViennaTalks is to restore the #JCPOA in its original form. Nothing more and nothing less,” Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s Permanent Representative to International Organizations in Vienna, tweeted on Saturday, referring to the nuclear deal by its official acronym.

The remaining parties to the JCPOA have been engaged in talks since early April to bring the United States back into the deal, three years after former US President Donald Trump withdrew.

On June 20, the sixth in-person round of the talks came to an end so that the negotiators would return to their capitals for further consultations, which turned out to be the longest break the diplomats have taken since the beginning of the negotiations.

The parties to the nuclear deal are expected to convene in the Austrian capital once again for the seventh round of talks, which is speculated to be – as usual – the final round.

No policy more bankrupt than ‘maximum pressure’

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova maintained at a briefing on Thursday that “healthy forces” around the world realize that there may be no policy more bankrupt than the “maximum pressure,” which was Trump’s approach toward Iran after his withdrawal.

Zakharova said Trump’s maximum pressure campaign led the US under a “roller” of its own design and, in turn, made Washington learn a historical lesson after becoming isolated at the UN Security Council.

“We have to note with regret and concern that, having declared its desire to return to the implementation of the JCPOA, the current US administration has not yet taken any practical steps that would show that it has refused to follow the destructive course of its predecessors,” she said, echoing Iran’s long-held position on the rhetoric employed by the administration of President Joe Biden.

She added that the Vienna talks are centered on returning the implementation of the JCPOA into a stable and predictable channel and creating conditions for normalizing international cooperation with Iran in the economy, trade, scientific research and technology, including a peaceful nuclear program.

Throughout the talks, Iran has asserted that the US must first remove all the sanctions imposed on the country after the JCPOA went into force in early 2016, in a verifiable way, in order for the Islamic Republic to fully observe the nuclear limitations set out by the deal.

A source familiar with the Vienna talks said Tehran has called for the establishment of “an Iranian-led committee” whose task would be to provide a regular reporting on the continuation of the removal of the US sanctions.

This is “something similar to what the UN nuclear watchdog (IAEA) does in terms of verifying the implementation of JCPOA-related commitments by Iran,” the Iranian English newspaper Tehran Times quoted the source as saying.

Sanctions didn’t work under Trump, won’t work under Biden: The Hill

In an article published on Saturday, American newspaper The Hill argued that Trump’s “disastrous maximum pressure” policy has only brought Tehran and Washington “terrifyingly close to the brink of all-out war,” causing needless suffering for ordinary Iranian civilians, particularly amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Far from turning the Iranian public against its government, sanctions have further fanned the flames of anti-US sentiment in Iran,” read the article, making a reference to the victory of Ebrahim Raeisi in Iran’s June 18 presidential election as a manifestation of the soaring anti-US sentiment in the country.

“The gambit to use sanctions to leverage further Iranian concessions didn’t work under Trump and won’t work under Biden,” it said, adding, “Democrats must ensure the nuclear deal –  perhaps the seminal foreign policy achievement of the Obama-Biden administration – is not allowed to collapse, and with it all hopes for near-term diplomacy between the United States and Iran.”

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