Iran delegation leaves for Vienna to resume nuclear deal talks: FM Spox

Iran's lead nuclear negotiator, Ali Bagheri Kani. (File photo)

Iran's lead negotiator in Vienna talks and his accompanying delegation left for the Austrian capital on Wednesday to resume the talks aimed at reviving the accord and lifting sanctions.

In a tweet on Wednesday evening, Ali Bagheri Kani said he was heading to Vienna "to advance the negotiations", urging the US to "seize the opportunity".

"The onus is on those who breached the deal and have failed to distance from ominous legacy," the deputy foreign minister said. "The US must seize the opportunity offered by the JCPOA partners’ generosity; ball is in their court to show maturity and act responsibly."

Earlier in the day, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kan’ani said Bagheri and his team were set to leave for Vienna to resume the talks.

“In a couple of hours, the Iranian negotiating delegation is to leave for Vienna for the continuation of sanctions removal talks,” Kan’ani said in a statement.

“This round of the talks will feature a discussion about the ideas that have been proposed by [various] parties, including the ones that have been presented on the part of Iran,” he added.

The announcement came shortly after the European Union’s deputy foreign policy chief, Enrique Mora, said he was also flying to Vienna for the talks to revive the 2015 accord, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“On my way to Vienna to discuss JCPOA back to full implementation,” Mora wrote on his Twitter page, saying the fresh talks would be held on the basis of a draft text proposed by the EU coordinator.

The former US administration led by President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA in May 2018, followed by the reinstatement of crippling sanctions on Iran under the so-called "maximum pressure campaign".

After exercising "strategic patience" for one year, Iran gradually started to scale back its commitments under the deal in 2019, holding both the US and Europeans responsible for it.

The talks to revive the landmark deal and have sanctions on Iran lifted started in April last year with the participation of the remaining parties to the deal. While the parties noted progress in multiple rounds of talks, the indecisiveness shown by Washington prevented any significant breakthrough. 

Last month, the talks moved to the Qatari capital of Doha in a different format, with Tehran and Washington holding indirect talks mediated by the European Union. The one round again failed to produce any desired result due to excessive demands of the US.

On July 20, the EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell proposed a new draft text to break the stalemate. 

“This text represents the best possible deal that I, as a facilitator of the negotiations, see as feasible,” he wrote in an article published in The Financial Times at the time, saying, “It is not a perfect agreement, but it addresses all essential elements and includes hard-won compromises by all sides.”

In response, Iran's lead negotiator took to Twitter on Sunday, saying Tehran has shared its proposed ideas to pave the way for "a swift conclusion of Vienna negotiations" aimed at "fixing the damaging complicated situation caused by the U.S. unilateral & unlawful withdrawal."

"We work closely with our JCPOA partners, in particular the Coordinator, to give another chance to the US to demonstrate good faith & act responsibly. As Iran, we stand ready to conclude the negotiations in short order, should the other side be ready to do the same," he wrote.

Iran MP upbeat about EU’s proposal

Speaking to Iran’s Daneshjou news website, Javad Karimi-Qoddousi, member of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee expressed hope concerning the EU’s draft text.

“The European Union’s proposal is a bit different from the previous proposals,” he said, adding that the new draft text has accommodated some of the Islamic Republic’s demands.

“In its new proposal, the European Union has shown lenience concerning some of Iran’s demands, and has adjusted its positions to some extent,” the lawmaker said.

“Of course, the Islamic Republic is examining the proposal too, and would submit its conclusions to the opposite side soon,” he noted.

The ranking parliamentarian, however, said there were “one or two” remaining sticking points, which had to do with the issue of the sanctions.

Late last month, Iran’s top negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani said Tehran was ready to swiftly conclude the Vienna talks and give the United States another chance to act responsibly toward its contractual obligations under the 2015 accord.

Tweeting on Sunday, Bagheri Kani, who also serves as Iran’s deputy foreign minister for political affairs, said the Islamic Republic had shared its “proposed ideas, both on substance and form, to pave the way for a swift conclusion of Vienna negotiations.”

“We work closely with our JCPOA partners, in particular the Coordinator, to give another chance to the US to demonstrate good faith & act responsibly. As Iran, we stand ready to conclude the negotiations in a short order, should the other side be ready to do the same,” he added.

US envoy to leave for Vienna

Robert Malley, the US special envoy for Iran, is also expected to travel to Vienna for the next round of talks to revive the 2015 nuclear accord, a report in Reuters said on Wednesday.

The report cited an unnamed official on Wednesday, providing no further details.

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