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Report: Europeans' lack of initiative drags down Vienna talks

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)
A British, German, and French flag on a cracked wall (By Dreamstime)

The website of Iran's top security body says the Europeans’ lack of initiative in the face of the Iranian team’s “groundbreaking” proposals is dragging down negotiations in Vienna.

Lead negotiator Ali Baqeri-Kani announced Thursday that Iran has submitted two proposed drafts to the other parties concerning the removal of US sanctions and Tehran’s nuclear commitments and is about to put forward a third draft. 

"The first document sums up the Islamic Republic's point of view concerning the removal of sanctions, while the second is about Iran's nuclear actions," Baqeri-Kani said. 

"In the third document to be presented to the other parties, Iran will state its views and proposals with regard to the verification period of removing sanctions," Nour News, which is affiliated to Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), cited Baqeri-Kani as saying.

"Now the other side must examine these documents and prepare itself to hold negotiations with Iran based on these documents," he said. 

European and Iranian officials were quoted as saying that a formal meeting in a format known as the Joint Commission would be held on Friday to decide on the continuation of the negotiation process. 

Iran's official news agency IRNA said the talks were set to be suspended Friday so that European diplomats can review proposals by the Islamic Republic. AFP quoted an unnamed European diplomat as saying that a resumption is expected early next week.

"The presentation of two documents on the removal of sanctions and nuclear activities by the Iranian delegation and the plan to put forward a third document is a clear and firm proof that Iran has not only entered the Vienna negotiation process by sending a full team of experts, but it has also foreseen all the necessary arrangements for pursuing constructive and result-oriented negotiations by presenting groundbreaking initiatives,” Nour News wrote.

“This is important because the Western side of the P4+1 group, which is following Washington's will, has concentrated on a blame game launched even before the start of this round of talks and by relying on heavy psychological operations, it has made every effort to blame Iran for a possible disagreement because it lacks the willpower to reach an agreement,” it added.

According to Nour News, the Western countries which were adamantly pressing for initial drafts in the previous six rounds of negotiations have not put any initiative on the negotiating table and practically slowed down the negotiation process.

“It should be noted that although Iran has stated from the beginning that achieving a good agreement will not be sacrificed for speed in the negotiations, the unpreparedness of the European parties has practically slowed down the negotiation process for no reason and paralyzed the way forward,” it said. 

The stalled talks resumed on Monday after a months-long hiatus, during which a new government took over in Tehran.

Iran has maintained that the revival of the the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the Iran nuclear deal is called, would require the US to remove its sanctions on Tehran.

Besides Iran, the remaining parties to the deal – Russia, China, France, Britain, and Germany – have sent their representatives to Vienna for the talks.

A US delegation, led by so-called special envoy for Iran Robert Malley, is also present in Vienna, but he is not allowed to participate in the talks because Washington is no longer a party to the JCPOA. 

The JCPOA was nixed by former US president Donald Trump in May 2018 in pursuit of a so-called maximum pressure campaign against the Islamic Republic. He followed it up with the inhuman economic sanctions, forcing Iran to gradually scale back its commitments under the deal.

Tehran maintained full compliance with the JCPOA until May 2019, a year after the US announced its unilateral withdrawal, and began to take reciprocal measures in line with its legal rights under the deal and only after other remaining signatories failed to take measures to salvage the agreement. 

In recent days, the Islamic Republic has asserted that it is seriously pursuing the marathon talks to reach a “good agreement” within the Vienna format. Iran has also urged other parties to show goodwill in order to bridge the differences.

On Friday, reports said the Europeans wanted to return to their capitals for consultations after four days of negotiations.  

"Given the unwillingness of the Western parties to advance professional, groundbreaking and outcome-oriented negotiations, it seems that we must, as in the past, anticipate an escalation in their blame game against Iran," Nour News said. 

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