Senior Foreign Ministry official: Relative progress made on some issues in JCPOA revival 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)
The file photo shows Palais Coburg, the venue of the talks between representatives from Iran and the remaining parties to the JCPOA, in the Austria capital of Vienna.

A senior official in Iran’s Foreign Ministry says relative progress has been made during the new round of talks on the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Quoted by Iran’s official IRNA news agency on Monday, the unnamed official said during this round of talks in the Austrian capital Vienna, Iran informed the opposite parties of its positions and “relative advances were made on a number of issues.”

He added that the EU deputy foreign policy chief, Enrique Mora, has offered several ideas on a number of outstanding issues to the negotiations parties in view of the discussions held in the past three days.

“As soon as we received these ideas, we informed him of our answers and primary considerations. Naturally, such issues need more comprehensive discussions and we will convey our additional views and considerations to the [JCPOA] coordinator and other parties,” the official said.

The official added, “There is no doubt that the most basic principle for us is to safeguard the rights and meet the interests of the Iranian nation.”

The official concluded by saying that the main priority of Iran’s negotiating team is to restore the Iranian nation’s rights, meet its interests, guarantee sustainable implementation of commitments by the opposite side and prevent repetition of the United States’ illegal moves.

This came after earlier in the day, a European official said the EU has submitted a "final text" at the Vienna talks with Iran on the JCPOA revival.

"We worked for four days and today, the text is on the table," the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told was quoted by AFP as saying. The official added, "The negotiation is finished, it's the final text... and it will not be renegotiated."

Russia's chief negotiator in the Vienna talks, Mikhail Ulyanov, also confirmed that the final text of an agreement has become ready and it is for the remaining members of the JCPOA to make decisions.

'WSJ report on final JCPOA text false'

Meanwhile, an Iranian Foreign Ministry official was also quoted by IRNA as rejecting a report by The Wall Street Journal, which claimed that the final text of the Vienna agreement on the revival of the JCPOA will be ready within hours.

The official said in view of the fact that discussions still continue on a number of important outstanding issues, “we have not yet reached a stage where we can talk about a final text.”

The official said the Iranian negotiating team has offered its constructive views to the other sides with the goal of helping the talks advance, and the final outcome of the negotiations will depend on the opposite side’s determination to make necessary political decisions.

“We still believe that if the other sides made suitable decisions, it would be possible to round up the negotiations rapidly, but we are still not at that stage,” the official said.

Iran and the remaining parties to the JCPOA -- Russia, China, France, Britain, and Germany -- started talks in the Austrian capital of Vienna in April last year. While the parties noted progress in multiple rounds of talks, the indecisiveness shown by Washington has prevented any significant breakthrough.

Last month, the negotiations were hosted in the Qatari capital of Doha in a different format, with Tehran and Washington holding indirect talks mediated by the European Union. Those talks also failed to produce any tangible result due to the excessive demands of the US.

After several months of impasse, the Vienna talks resumed on Thursday. Expert-level negotiations have been held between Iran and the P4+1 group of countries.

In a Sunday phone call with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said achieving an agreement on the JCPOA revival depends on the US showing realism in practice.

“We are serious about clenching a strong and durable agreement and the negotiations [on reviving the JCPOA] are now going on in Vienna with seriousness,” Iran’s foreign minister said, adding, “Of course, the outcome of this issue depends on whether the United States wants an agreement to be reached [and] whether the US shows necessary resilience and realism in practice.”

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