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EghtesadOnline: Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said Iran does not intend to engage in long drawn-out negotiations over the faltering 2015 nuclear deal and expects an acceptable level of progress toward an agreement to continue the talks.

He made the statement in an interview with IRIB News on Thursday, following the latest round of talks in Vienna, Austria, over how to restore the deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.    

The landmark deal has been in bad shape since the United States withdrew and reimposed sanctions on Tehran, to which Iran responded by surpassing the limits of the deal.

Despite willingness in the new US administration to rejoin and Iran’s readiness to resume compliance, the situation faces challenges due to differences over what steps and in what order should be taken by each side. 

JCPOA’s Joint Commission initiated the Vienna talks early this month to resolve the deadlock. Working groups of experts have been tasked with devising a feasible process for Washington’s sanctions lifting and Tehran’s return to full nuclear implementation.  

The US is not attending the meetings, but holding separate talks with the remaining parties, the group referred to as P4+1 (France, Britain, Russia and China, plus Germany). 

“Although we still have differences, we share this common interest that we have to move forward and we have to expedite this process to come to a conclusion as soon as possible,” Araqchi said in a separate interview with Press TV.  

He added that the Iranian delegation is not keen on “time-consuming and worrisome” negotiations. 

Iran’s stated policy is that all US sanctions must be lifted before it reverses its remedial steps after verifying the effectiveness of their removal. 

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday that there is no question about negotiation to implement this policy, but warned the authorities about being dragged into extended talks.

“Care must be taken that the negotiations do not become protracted, as it is to the country’s detriment,” he said, Leader.ir reported.  

Concrete lists

During the Thursday meeting, participants agreed that the working groups continue their technical discussions and share the results with the joint commission possibly in the coming days.  

In the meantime, delegates are holding bilateral and multilateral talks. 

Araqchi, who is heading Iran’s delegation, has since met his Chinese and Russian counterparts as well as Enrique Mora, the European External Action Service’s deputy secretary general, who coordinates the commission. 

The P4+1 also held an unofficial meeting on Thursday with the American delegation in the absence of Iran that has refused to engage in any direct or indirect talks with the US.   

The deputy minister said that at this stage, “a concrete, specific list of measures” to be taken by Iran and the US needs to be prepared and once finalized, talks will begin on the methods of verification.

Iran seeks a complete list of sanctions that should also include third parties who have been sanctioned because of their cooperation with Iran, according to Araqchi. 

 

On Right Track 

Although the negotiations are difficult, the Iranian deputy minister said he is hopeful that the talks will be wrapped up in this round. 

“I cannot say that I am optimistic, but I think we are on a good track, although we had the negative impacts of last days’ developments and we have to somehow manage that,” he said, referring to the attack at Natanz nuclear facility and the European Union’s imposition of new human rights sanctions.

Iran blamed Europe during the Thursday talks not only for the new sanctions, but also for its indifference about the recent act of sabotage while Russia and China adopted an acceptable stance. 

Araqchi said Iran does not need the Europeans’ condemnation, but their position signals their lack of goodwill in nuclear talks. 

Iran also considers the European Union sanctions as JCPOA-related because they were imposed in the middle of negotiations. 

“That is certainly [meant] to undermine the current negotiations and to undermine the JCPOA altogether,” the top diplomat said, adding it is a significant non-performance by EU.

 

Iran Abbas Araqchi