EghtesadOnline: Negotiations on the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal were paused for a few days following a seventh round of talks that was concluded by a meeting of the Joint Commission on Friday.
“We will convene a Joint Commission today & will continue talks after a break of a few days,” Iran’s top negotiator Ali Baqeri said on Twitter ahead of the meeting, without giving a date for the resumption.
During the Friday session, which was attended by France, Germany, Britain, Russia, China and Iran, the participants took stock of the work done and agreed on the way ahead.
China’s lead negotiator, Wan Qun, said afterwards that the talks will “resume hopefully before the end of the year,” adding that they have not firmed up a date yet.
One of the attending diplomats had told Reuters earlier that the negotiations would restart on Dec. 27, while another said they would resume between Christmas and the New Year.
Enrique Mora, the European Union diplomat who chaired the talks, said that “we will resume soon,” hoping it will be during 2021.
“For the eighth round, we have a lot of work ahead, a very complex task, I have to say. Difficult political decisions have to be taken,” he was quoted as saying by AP.
The EU envoy underscored that there is a “sense of urgency” to revive the agreement after the talks adjourned, though he would not set a deadline.
“We are not talking any more about months, we are talking about weeks,” he said, calling on the negotiators to confirm their priorities and avoid unrealistic demands.
Talks in the Austrian capital Vienna are aimed at working out how the United States and Iran can return to full compliance with the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
Tehran began exceeding the JCPOA’s nuclear limits in response to Washington’s unilateral exit and reimposition of sanctions that were lifted under the agreement.
The negotiations entered their seventh round in late November with a new Iranian delegation representing a more conservative government which came to power in June.
The new team put forward two proposals on sanctions-lifting and nuclear measures which included reforms to drafts previously agreed by former negotiators.
This raised criticism by western parties who claimed Iran was backtracking on the diplomatic progress made and making maximalist demands.
Despite the difficult challenges and the European parties’ pessimistic assessment of the process, Baqeri described the progress of the negotiations as “good”.
“We have made good progress this week,” he tweeted after his meeting with Mora “to take stock of the situation & discuss the way forward.”
Basis for Lasting Deal
Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian stressed that Iran’s “good proposals” can serve as a basis for a lasting agreement.
In a phone conversation with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, he said a reason behind the slow progress of the Vienna talks is that unlike Iran, the western side has offered no initiative.
“We have put forward two drafts regarding sanctions removal and nuclear issues which conform to the JCPOA,” he said.
He stressed that Iran has made no demand beyond the deal, nor will it accept any obligations beyond its terms.
“The way to address the West’s alleged concerns is to fully remove the JCPOA-related sanctions,” he added.
Iran’s top diplomat also said Tehran is seeking a good deal with goodwill and practical initiatives but will not tolerate the language of threat.
“The western sides should know that threats against Iran are counterproductive.”
Guterres said the world body would use all mechanisms at its disposal so that the Vienna talks can produce good results.