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Russia rejects Western ‘artificial deadlines’ for Vienna talks

Russia’s lead negotiator to the Vienna talks Mikhail Ulyanov (C) is seen during a meeting with the signatories of the 2015 agreement without Iran. (Via Ulyanov’s Twitter account)

As multilateral negotiations to bring the US into full compliance with the 2015 agreement continue, Russia’s lead negotiator to the Vienna talks says his country rejects “artificial deadlines” set by Western parties after their meeting with the US.

“The #JCPOA participants (without #Iran) and the US met to assess the state of affairs at the #ViennaTalks,” Mikhail Ulyanov wrote in a tweet on Friday.

“The Western colleagues, as they do it publicly, underlined the need to finalize negotiations ASAP. Russia shares the sense of urgency but is against artificial deadlines,” he added.

Iran and the other participants to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the 2015 Iran agreement, have been holding talks in the Austrian capital since April last year with the aim of reviving the deal by bringing the US into full compliance.

The US left the JCPOA in May 2018 under former president Donald Trump. The Vienna talks began on a promise by Trump’s successor, Joe Biden, to rejoin the deal and repeal the so-called maximum pressure campaign against Iran.

Biden, however, has so far failed to undo Trump’s own undoing of Barack Obama’s Iran policy, which led to the JCPOA in June 2015.

In response to the US withdrawal, Iran began to reduce its nuclear commitments under the JCPOA in 2019.

Tehran maintains that it will reverse its nuclear measures once the US – the main culprit behind the failure of the JCPOA – removes its sanctions and abides by all of its contractual commitments in practice.

The Islamic Republic has also rejected the pessimistic assessment of the talks by the US and the European trio – namely France, Britain, and Germany – as a psychological ploy to win concessions.

On Monday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry dismissed “fabricated deadlines” set by the US and its European allies.

Speaking at a press conference in Tehran, Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said the US would better focus on its Plan A rather than threatening Iran with a Plan B.

Days earlier, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had said there were only “a few weeks left” to save the 2015 deal.

“We’re very, very short on time,” because “Iran is getting closer and closer to the point where they could produce on very, very short order enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon,” Blinken claimed.

In the course of the Vienna talks, Russia and China have supported Iran’s position while the European parties to the deal have thrown their weight behind Washington as they try to pressure Tehran into accepting terms dictated by the White House.

“China and Russia support Iran’s constructive plan, but Western countries, including the United States, have so far offered no innovative proposals in the talks,” Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said in an interview with the CGTN published on Monday.

Amir-Abdollahian made clear that “if the parties can resume their commitments under the Iran deal, Iran will also return to commitments based on the agreement.”

He added, “If Iran can get the expected economic benefits from the agreement, so will all the parties.”

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