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Iran FM: Positive developments in Vienna talks fall short of our expectations

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)
Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian says positive developments have taken place during the course of the ongoing talks in the Austrian capital on the removal of sanctions imposed on Tehran, but they are not enough to meet Iran’s expectations.

Amir-Abdollahian made the remarks in a Saturday phone call with the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, during which the two sides discussed the latest developments in the Vienna talks.

Thanking the efforts made by Borrell and his deputy, Enrique Mora, for the coordination of the talks, Iran’s top diplomat said, “Since the last round of negotiations, positive developments have taken place in the Vienna talks, but they still fall short of meeting our expectations.”

Late in November last year, the participants in the talks aimed to revive Iran's deal with world powers, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), resumed the Vienna talks for the first time under Iran’s new president Ebrahim Raeisi. Since then, Iran has repeatedly emphasized that it seeks a “good agreement” in the Austrian capital.

The talks were launched last April over US President Joe Biden’s pledge to rejoin the JCPOA and rescind Trump’s “failed maximum pressure” campaign.

Over a year into his presidency, Biden has failed to re-enter the 2015 deal. Instead, he has kept Trump’s sanctions in place while adding new ones as well.

The United States quit the deal in 2018 and returned the sanctions that the accord had lifted. Now, the talks are examining the potential of fresh removal of the sanctions.

On Friday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken restored several sanctions waivers related to the JCPOA.

The so-called “civ-nuke” waivers were ended during the administration of former US president Donald Trump as part of his anti-Iran “maximum pressure” campaign.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Amir-Abdollahian said Iran was "resolutely and clearly" pursuing conclusion of a "good agreement" with the other side in Vienna, but "at the same time we insist on guarding our own redlines and national interests with the same level of determination."

Unfortunately, due to the sanctions, the 2015 deal has fallen short of meeting Iran's economic interests over the past years, he added, insisting that a good agreement was an agreement that would secure Iran's economic interests "in a sustainable and reliable" manner.

The Iranian foreign minister, meanwhile, said the country is determined to achieve a good agreement and to that end, it will maintain "uninterrupted and close" contact with the European Union.

Borrell, for his part, acknowledged that the talks were going through "an important juncture."

He urged the concerned parties to come to the negotiating table "with a distinctive agenda" aimed at bringing about an agreement, and be ready for "taking political decisions."

His remarks appeared to be echoing the Islamic Republic's complaint about the Western side's lack of initiative as opposed to Tehran's preparedness.

Also on Saturday, Iran's security chief warned the United States against putting up a "show" of lifting the sanctions rather than actually removing the bans.

Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani made the remarks in a tweet that came after Washington restored a number of sanctions waivers instead of practically removing any of its coercive economic measures targeting Iran.

“Real, effective and verifiable economic benefit for Iran is a necessary condition for the formation of an agreement," he wrote, adding, “The show of lifting sanctions is not considered constructive.”

Still weighing in on the issue of the talks, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said despite certain challenges, the ongoing talks between Iran and the P4+1 were on the right track.

In an interview with Saudi-owned al-Arabiya news channel, Rafael Grossi added that it would be clear within the next few days whether the Vienna negotiations would result in an outcome.

It is complicated but not impossible to reach an agreement with Tehran within the next days, he said.

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