Russia: Setting date for new talks opens way for lifting of US bans, JCPOA revival

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)
This handout photo taken and released by the EU Delegation in Vienna on April 20, 2021 shows delegation members from the parties to the Iran nuclear deal attending a meeting at the Grand Hotel of Vienna as they try to restore the deal. (Via AFP)

A senior Russian diplomat says the recent decision made collectively by Iran and other parties to the 2015 nuclear agreement to resume talks later this month will pave the way for the lifting of the sanctions that the US imposed on Iran after leaving the deal and Tehran’s return to full compliance.

In a post on his Twitter account on Thursday, Russian Ambassador to International Organizations in Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov said Iran and the P4+1 group of countries agreed to resume talks on the restoration of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), on November 29.  

“This long-awaited collective decision opens the way to #US #sanctions lifting and return of #Iran to full implementation of nuclear provisions of 2015 deal,” he tweeted.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister and top negotiator Ali Baqeri first announced via Twitter on Wednesday that he had spoken with European Union Deputy Secretary General and Political Director Enrique Mora, and that the two “agreed to start the negotiations aiming at removal of unlawful & inhumane sanctions on 29 November in Vienna.”

The European Union, which acted as the coordinator for the talks that led to the conclusion of the nuclear deal, also confirmed the news and said the Joint Commission of the JCPOA would convene in a “physical format” in the Austrian capital and be chaired by Mora, on behalf of the EU High Representative Josep Borrell.

In a press release, it added that the meeting would be attended by representatives of China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and Iran – the remaining signatories to the JCPOA after the US unilaterally abandoned the agreement three years after its conclusion.

“Participants will continue the discussions on the prospect of a possible return of the United States to the JCPOA and how to ensure the full and effective implementation of the agreement by all sides,” the EU said.

Iran and six world powers, including the US, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China, inked the JCPOA in July 2015. The agreement removed international sanctions on Iran in exchange for certain limits on Iran’s nuclear activities.

The deal, however, was unilaterally abandoned by the US in 2018 despite Iran’s full compliance with its nuclear undertakings, as repeatedly certified by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The US then unleashed a “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran which practically deprived the country of all of the deal’s economic benefits.

Iran fully honored its nuclear obligations for an entire year, after which it decided to ramp up its nuclear work as a legal “remedial measure” against the US violation of the deal and the abject failure on the part of the other signatories, the E3 in particular, to safeguard its benefits.

Iran and the remaining parties to the JCPOA have held six rounds of talks in Austria’s capital, Vienna, since April, which began after the administration of US President Joe Biden voiced willingness to rejoin the agreement. The talks were, however, put on hold in the run-up to Iran’s presidential election in June so that the Islamic Republic could go through a period of government transition.

In another post, Ulyanov responded to a tweet about the possibility of Donald Trump’s re-election as American president in 2024 and Washington’s second pullout from the deal.

The Russian administration said any new US administration must learn from the “strategic mistakes” of the past, referring to Trump’s so-called ‘maximum pressure’ policy on Iran.

“Isn’t it clear that the maximum pressure resulted in an enormous advancement of the Iranian nuclear programme? Is there any irresponsible politician in the US to repeat this catastrophic exercise?” the senior Russian diplomat tweeted.

As the date has been set for the resumption of the talks, the Russian envoy in Vienna said his country remains hopeful and in response to Newsweek’s question about Moscow’s mood into what would be the seventh round of the negotiations, he shared a Russian proverb.

“In Russia we have a saying which can be translated into English as: the hope is the last to die,” Ulyanov wrote. “I believe it is too early to be pessimistic.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Sunday that Moscow fully supports the idea of resuming the implementation of the JCPOA in the form it was signed and later approved by the United Nations, without “any additions or exemptions.”

“If the sides are intensifying contacts, they apparently want to come to resuming the deal. It may be resumed solely in the form it was approved by the UN Security Council in 2015,” Russia’s top diplomat said on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Rome, Italy.

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