JCPOA Parties Hold Successful Talks in Vienna

Mora said working groups will start discussions on sanctions lifting on Tuesday, before talks on nuclear steps the following day
JCPOA Parties Hold Successful Talks in Vienna
JCPOA Parties Hold Successful Talks in Vienna

Parties to the 2015 nuclear deal held the seventh round of talks on the revival of the agreement successfully on Monday.

"Participants agreed on further immediate steps during the seventh round of negotiations which started quite successfully," said Russia's diplomat Mikhail Ulyanov in a Tweet.

The Vienna talks aim to bring the United States and Iran back into full compliance with the nuclear deal, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Under the JCPOA, Iran had agreed to place curbs on its nuclear program in return for the lifting of international sanctions, but gradually rowed back on its commitments after the US quit the accord and reimposed tough sanctions that the other parties could not compensate for.

The negotiating process had been halted since June after six rounds due to a change of government in Iran, but were eventually restarted on Monday.

Negotiators from Iran, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China attended the JCPOA Joint Commission meeting, chaired by the European Union envoy Enrique Mora as coordinator. 

Mora said in a press briefing after the meeting that the negotiations were positive and will continue in the coming days, adding that expert working groups will begin discussions on the removal of sanctions on Tuesday before talks on nuclear steps the following day. 

Iran’s top negotiator Ali Baqeri had an informal meeting with the coordinator and the heads of Russian and Chinese delegations on Sunday.

He told reporters afterwards that this round of talks will center on the lifting of sanctions as a main priority, adding that no time frame could be estimated for the process.

“Iran enters the negotiations with a serious determination and a strong preparations to revoke the illegal and cruel sanctions,” he was quoted as saying by IRNA.

During the Monday meeting, the future prospects of this round of talks will be discussed by the delegations and the framework and time frame of the negotiations will most probably be decided, he added.



No Proper Base

Iran demands an effective and verifiable removal of all sanctions before reversing its nuclear steps, while US officials insist that both sides need to return to compliance mutually.

In an article published by the Financial Times, Baqeri had said the principle of “mutual compliance” cannot form a proper base for negotiations since it was the US government which unilaterally left the deal.

“The US should therefore demonstrate that it is serious this time, and that it possesses the necessary competence to fulfil its commitments,” he said.

He added that the west needs to pay a price for having failed to uphold its part of the bargain while Iran was in full compliance.

“As in any business, a deal is a deal, and breaking it has consequences,” he said.

Baqeri said actions now matter more than mere words and Iran should be offered a clear and transparent mechanism to ensure that sanctions will be removed.

According to the diplomat, Iran is ready for a fair and careful discussion, based on the principles of “guarantee” and “verification”, which must prioritize compensation for the violation of the deal, which includes the removal of all post-JCPOA sanctions.

In return, Iran is ready to fulfil its nuclear commitments in accordance with the agreement, he said.

“We remain prepared to react proportionately to any pressure and reciprocate any goodwill gesture.”



Moving Goalposts

Baqeri stressed that Iran remains committed to the negotiating process and we will adhere to our commitments, although the Iranian people trust neither the process, nor its outcome.

He said the west does not seek to implement the deal despite expressing an intention, he said.

“From our experience, this is followed by actions to ‘hijack’ the JCPOA platform to force Iran to make more concessions in areas unrelated to the nuclear issue.”

Western countries attempt to portray negotiations as merely a process to restrict Iran’s legitimate and peaceful nuclear program, while from Iran’s perspective, the process must pursue real objectives observed by all parties, he said.

“The west regards any agreement solely as an established platform from which to launch more pressure against Iran,” he said describing as “moving the goalposts”. 

Iran pursues two goals in the process of negotiations, according to Baqeri, the first of which is to gain “a full, guaranteed and verifiable removal of the sanctions”.

“Without this, the process will continue indefinitely,” he said.

The second is to facilitate the legal rights of the Iranian nation to benefit from peaceful nuclear knowledge, according to the terms of the international Non-Proliferation Treaty, he added.

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