Vienna Talks to Center on Content

Vienna Talks to Center on Content
Vienna Talks to Center on Content

Negotiations on the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal enter a phase where the “contents” of a potential agreement are to be put up for discussion, a senior Iranian diplomat said, as the eighth round of talks resumed on Monday following a three-day pause for New Year festivities.    
“As of this afternoon, talks will start bilaterally and multilaterally… The working groups and delegations will have a definite agenda as of today,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said at a regular press conference on Monday. 
Talks in the Austrian capital Vienna started in April to restore the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, under which Iran curbed its nuclear program in return for the lifting of international sanctions. 
The agreement has been faltering since the US pulled out and Iran scaled down its commitments in response to reimposed American sanctions. 
Seven rounds of negotiations have been concluded to work out how both sides can return to full compliance and an eighth round is still underway. 
Following a New Year gap, the delegations carried on with their bilateral and multilateral meetings on Monday. 
Along this line, Iran’s top negotiator Ali Baqeri met the European Union coordinator of the talks Enrique Mora on Monday afternoon, before a meeting with representatives of the three European countries, France, Germany and Britain, later on the day. 
Iran demands a complete removal of sanctions before reversing its nuclear steps and means of verifying their effectiveness, as well as assurances that the deal would not be violated again.
“We have had progress in all four areas of sanctions, nuclear steps, guarantees an verification,” Khatibzadeh said, adding that the degree of progress varies in each sector. 
He reiterated that Iran would negotiate with careful consideration of all its concerns and will not accept artificial deadlines. 


Maximalist Demands 

The Vienna talks changed course after a new Iranian government took over and put forward new drafts containing reforms to previous agreements. 
Despite initial expression of dismay by western countries, negotiators eventually managed to achieve progress and reached joint drafts. 
Khatibzadeh said the fact that there is a joint document today is because the western sides have come to the realistic understanding that they need to back down on their maximalist demands. 
“What we have today is the result of the western parties’ realization that they cannot make nuclear demands beyond the JCPOA and offer fewer sanctions-lifting benefits than agreed under the accord,” he added. 
The diplomat also noted that Iran shares its proposals with the American representatives in a written but informal way through the EU coordinator of the JCPOA Joint Commission. 
As Iran refuses to engage in direct talks with the US, the remaining parties, namely France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China (P4+1), carry out shuttle diplomacy between the two.
Khatibzadeh also dismissed claims that Russia is negotiating on Iran’s behalf, saying Moscow, along with other P4+1 countries, holds constant discussions with American representatives as part of the negotiating routine, but is only more active on social media. 

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