Vienna Talks Focused on Sticking Points

Negotiators in Vienna have been holding intensive talks over the past week and have reached the main areas of disagreement, Araqchi said
Vienna Talks Focused on Sticking Points
Vienna Talks Focused on Sticking Points

Negotiations in Vienna, Austria, on the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal are at a point where major areas of difference are being discussed, according to the Iranian top negotiator. 
“We have carried on with negotiations for a week. The talks have many complications as we have reached the main areas of disagreement,” Abbas Araqchi was quoted as saying by IRNA.  
He added, however, that they have made good progress and moved on the right track.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh also said on Monday that there is no stalemate in the talks. 
“We have reached key issues that need to be decided upon. We make no haste to reach an agreement but will not allow the talks to be prolonged either,” he said at a regular press briefing, ISNA reported. 
Iran and the world powers have been negotiating since early April on restoring the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, to its original shape. 
The United States pulled out of the accord in 2018 and restored tough sanctions on Iran, which later responded by scaling down its commitments in a series of remedial steps. 
The talks aim to work out the steps that Tehran and Washington must take on sanctions and nuclear activities to return to full compliance with the pact.
“All sanctions that were imposed during the [US ex-president Donald] Trump’s tenure, with the aim of ruining the JCPOA and denying its benefits to Iran, must be removed and the removal must be verified based on formulas devised in Vienna talks, and then Iran will stop its remedial measures,” Khatibzadeh said. 
Over the past few days, several bilateral and multilateral meetings have been held at political director and expert levels between Iran and European Union, the three European powers, China and Russia. 
Discussions were carried out even on holidays and lasted until late hours at times.
Along this line, Araqchi met with Chinese and Russian representatives on Monday, before holding talks with the EU, French, British and German envoys in a separate meeting.  



Last Round? 

The talks are currently at their fifth round which some diplomats hope would be the last given the significant progress made so far.
“This round could be the last, but if that does not happen, talks will continue,” Khatibzadeh said, adding one should not rush to make a firm prediction.  
Russia’s envoy Mikhail Ulyanov also said on Twitter, “As of now, there are no plans for the sixth. The negotiators proceed from the understanding that the current round should be final.”
Reuters quoted a regional diplomat, briefed by western officials involved in the talks, as saying that “an agreement that would clarify the obligations of Tehran and Washington to move forward” will be announced in Vienna this week.
Araqchi, however, said he is not sure this would be the final round and the delegates might need to return to their capitals once again for consultations.
New US President Joe Biden intends to rejoin the agreement that his predecessor abandoned, but has said he seeks to “extend and strengthen” the accord to also include Iran’s missile program and regional policies as well.  
Khatibzadeh said, however, that the JCPOA must be implemented exactly as it was written in 2015, “not a word more, not a word less”, stressing that there have been no talks with the US about a “JCPOA Plus”.
“The only choice and solution on the table is the JCPOA that was signed in 2015, and this is the best thing the current US administration can think of.”

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