Vienna talks can be wrapped up 'within days' but US is reluctant: Russia

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)
This file photo taken and released on December 27, 2021 by the EU delegation in Vienna - EEAS shows representatives attending a meeting of the Joint Commission of the JCPOA in Vienna, Austria. (By AFP)

A senior Russian diplomat says the Vienna talks aimed at the removal of US sanctions and revival of the 2015 nuclear deal can be wrapped up within days but the United States is not ready to take the necessary steps.

Addressing a press conference on Wednesday, Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia's permanent representative to Vienna-based international organizations, said according to his country's assessments the talks “can be completed in almost one or two days.”

The remaining issues are “not complicated”, he stressed, adding that it seems the US is “not ready for the resumption of negotiations,” Russia's state-run TASS reported on Wednesday. 

The remarks come as negotiations, which started in April last year in Vienna, remain stalled since August as Washington refuses to remove sanctions that were slapped on the Islamic Republic by the previous US administration of Donald Trump.

This is while after taking office, the Biden administration had criticized his predecessor's decision to scrap the deal, known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and vowed to reverse the measure.

On the contrary, the Biden administration officials have upped the so-called maximum pressure campaign against Iran and on several occasions announced that the talks to revive the 2015 nuclear accord are no longer their main focus.

There are signs that the United States made a decision to at least "freeze" the negotiations, Ulyanov said, noting that it is “irresponsible” to stop the talks based on “implausible pretexts” while there are “literally few steps left to the finish line.”

He also warned that there is a “risk of escalation” which can become “uncontrollable” in case the talks are not completed.

Ulyanov, however, hoped that the recent statements by senior US officials about JCPOA would not be their “last word”.

US National Security Council Strategic Communications Coordinator John Kirby on Tuesday accused Iran of "cracking down on protestors" and "sending drones to Russia", noting that at this time Washington does not “see a deal coming together anytime soon.”

“What we’re focused on right now are practical ways to confront Iran in those areas and not on the Iran deal,” Kirby said.

Observers believe Washington is trying to use these baseless accusations against Iran to gain leverage in talks and negotiate from a position of strength. 

Tehran has repeatedly rejected reports of drone delivery to Russia for use in the Ukraine war while also condemning the US and other Western countries for stoking the deadly unrest in the country with "interventionist remarks".

Iran’s intelligence bodies have found footprints of American and other Western spy agencies in recent violent riots inside Iran which erupted following the death of Mahsa Amini in mid-September

Iran reaffirms readiness

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian also touched upon the Vienna talks while speaking to reporters on Wednesday in Amman, noting that the Iranian delegation held a meeting with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on the sidelines of the Baghdad Conference ll on Tuesday.

“In the past two to three months, the American side made some hypocritical statements … they had been repeatedly announcing their preference for the final step for the return of all sides to the agreement in Vienna but behaved hypocritically in the media,” he said.  

The Iranian delegation stressed in the meeting that if the American side's claim of pursuing diplomacy is true, then they should not seek leverage through these statements in the media, the top diplomat said.

“We assume that different sides are returning to realism and we also announced that if all of our red lines are observed, we are ready to take the final step for reaching an agreement.”  

Iran has demanded that the United States provide assurances that it would not leave the JCPOA again before it could reenter the agreement. Washington has refused to give a legally enforceable guarantee, leaving Iranian negotiators suspicious of the Biden administration’s seriousness in the talks.


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