EghtesadOnline: The eighth round of negotiations on the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal started on Monday in the Austrian capital Vienna with an official meeting of the remaining parties.
The Joint Commission was attended by representatives of Iran, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China and chaired by the European Union envoy Enrique Mora as the coordinator.
The negotiations aim to work out how the United States and Iran can return to the full implementation of the landmark agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which placed curbs on Iran’s nuclear program in return for the lifting of international sanctions.
Washington quit the deal in 2018 and reimposed sanctions that prompted Tehran to row back on its nuclear commitments.
The Vienna talks, which began in April, were interrupted by the presidential elections in Iran, after which a new delegation took over, putting forward new drafts containing reforms to previous agreements.
Despite initial expression of dismay by western countries, negotiators eventually managed to achieve progress on the final days of the seventh round.
A source close to the Iranian delegation said participants have agreed on “form” and are set to discuss “content” in the new round.
“If the other sides are ready to focus on content, we can move forward,” the source told IRNA.
European parties said following the latest round that “precious time” was being lost and that they are “rapidly reaching the end of the road” in these negotiations.
The US also put the timeline of negotiations within weeks, saying Washington and its partners are discussing those timeframes behind closed doors.
The diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Iranian team will stay in Vienna for as long as needed to carry on with the talks, adding that there is no emergency situation for Iran in these negotiations.
“Iran is committed to reaching a good agreement in the shortest possible order, but we will not be enslaved by artificial deadlines and timeframes would not cause a change in our red lines,” the source said.
The progress made about drafts on nuclear issues in the previous round indicates Iran’s serious interaction, according to the diplomat, and it is now time for the other sides to show their good faith with regard to sanctions lifting issues.
“Progress in the future round depends on the other sides’ approaches.”
Referring to the French party’s reportedly “unconstructive” position, the source said Iran would not judge for now and would wait to see if they act as deal-breaker or dealmaker in the new round.
An informed source had earlier disclosed attempts by France to throw a wrench in the latest round of talks, saying Paris’ two-day absence in the negotiations had initially helped the negotiating sides make progress in preparing drafts.
Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said the last round of talks resulted in new drafts which form the basis of the upcoming talks.
“We call them Dec. 1 and Dec. 15 drafts on two nuclear and sanctions lifting topics, which means we have set aside the June draft and have reached new joint documents,” he said.
Iran’s most important expectation, according to the top diplomat, is to be able to enjoy the full economic benefits of the JCPOA.
“The most important issue for us is to reach a point where Iranian oil can be sold easily and without prohibition and its revenues can be put into Iranian back accounts in foreign exchange,” he said.
He also said guarantees and verification of sanctions lifting are among subjects that Iran will focus on in the current talks.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said on Monday that negotiators would focus specifically on sanctions lifting in this round and verification will be pursued alongside.
“The false impression that … they can make demands beyond the JCPOA and offer fewer benefits to Iran than those in the deal is intolerable for Tehran,” he said at a Monday press conference.
He also rejected the possibility of a measure-for-measure agreement, which suggests a step-by-step process of Iran’s reduction of enrichment in return for the removal of sanctions.
“We are ready for an agreement in which we first make sure the [other sides’] measures will be implemented,” he said.