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EghtesadOnline: Negotiations to save the nuclear pact between Iran and world powers are proceeding in a constructive atmosphere, sources familiar with the talks in Vienna said on Thursday.

It is becoming clear that Iran will insist on some kind of assurance that the agreements will be respected in the future, they told dpa. This is recognized by all sides, but is extremely difficult to implement.

Overall, the talks lack the necessary momentum to reach a conclusion in a few weeks, as had been hoped. The current round of negotiations has been suspended until next Monday.

Under former president Donald Trump in 2018, the United States unilaterally withdrew from the agreement reached in 2015.

Following the reinstatement of sanctions by the US, Tehran also no longer complied with the rules limiting its nuclear capabilities.

Iran’s chief negotiator, Ali Baqeri, said the key to success in the negotiations was the effective lifting of US sanctions. The more serious the other side is in this regard, the less time the negotiations will take, he added.

One of the points of contention still to be resolved at the talks in Vienna is the sequence of de-escalation steps by Washington and Tehran.

In eight rounds of negotiations so far, Iran and the US have been unable to reach an agreement despite mediation attempts by Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China.



Good Progress 

Iran’s top negotiator said during the eighth round of negotiations “good progress” was made with regard to the removal of sanctions and subsequent verification of sanctions removal.

Baqeri made the remarks while speaking to reporters on Thursday before leaving Vienna for Tehran after the negotiators declared a few days of recess on the occasion of New Year holidays.

“The issue of sanctions removal was the main focus of the talks. Iran and the other side continued their negotiations on multiple issues, including a number of sessions on the verification of sanctions removal. The meetings were attended by both the coordinator of the joint commission of the JCPOA and the European side,” he said.

“Also, on the issue of verification, Iran held separate sessions with the coordinator of the joint commission and the three European signatories” to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, he added.

“There was also some correspondence between the two sides on the issue of sanctions removal. Good progress was made during the first days of the eighth round.”

Iran’s top negotiator also expressed hope that after a few days of recess over the New Year holidays, more serious work would be pursued on the issue of sanctions removal by the other parties.

“We hope more serious work gets underway on the issue of sanctions removal once the delegations return to negotiations after the New Year holidays.”

Meanwhile, the Russian ambassador to international organizations in Vienna also talked to reporters following the conclusion of talks on Thursday, saying that in his opinion an agreement could be clinched by participants in the Vienna talks before the end of February 2022.

“I believe it is doable to achieve an agreement in first half of February; maybe a little bit earlier or later; nobody can say precisely and accurately… The most important thing is that we observe steady progress. It’s difficult but we move ahead,” Mikhail Ulyanov said.

The Russian diplomat added in a post on his twitter account that the eighth round of negotiations will resume on January 3.



Moscow’s Stance 

Also on Thursday, the spokesman for Russia’s Foreign Ministry denied reports that the Iranian delegation is stalling the Vienna talks.

Speaking at a weekly briefing, the ministry’s spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Russia sees no reasons to accuse Iran of stalling the Vienna talks.

“We don’t see any reasons to assert that the Iranian side is stalling this process,” the Russian diplomat said, adding, “Actually, this is not in its interests either as Tehran has repeatedly stated because, while the JCPOA is stuck, illegitimate American sanctions continue to be in effect.”

Shed noted that Washington “has already regretted several times the fatal decision by the previous administration to end the nuclear deal with Iran” when the US unilaterally “simply ran away” from the JCPOA.

“It is always more difficult to restore than to destroy,” the Russian spokesman said, adding, “Washington has to tangibly support its numerous promises to return to the JCPOA with practical action.”

“It is obvious that the position of an offender of the UN Security Council resolution creates more and more discomfort for the Americans. On our part, we are doing everything necessary in order to help rectify the situation and we hope that intensive negotiating efforts at the Vienna venue will continue despite the counteraction of the opponents of the nuclear deal.”

“We proceed from the premise that there is no alternative to the JCPOA,” Zakharova said, adding, “We are confident that its full implementation will have a favorable impact on the political climate in the Middle East and in the Persian Gulf region and, of course, will facilitate a decrease in tensions and the strengthening of trust in the region.”