Vienna Talks Not at a Dead End

An agreement in Vienna awaits political decisions by the other side, Khatibzadeh said
Vienna Talks Not at a Dead End
Vienna Talks Not at a Dead End

Negotiations on the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal in the Austrian capital Vienna are “not in deadlock” and discussions are underway between delegations as before, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said. 
“Of course they definitely face slowness in some areas,” Saeed Khatibzadeh said at a regular press briefing on Monday, IRNA reported. 
He added that what remains in Vienna are key subjects, and talks become difficult when they reach a point where important issues need to be discussed.
“An agreement in Vienna awaits political decisions by the other side. Tehran made its political decisions years ago when it remained in the JCPOA despite the US withdrawal,” he said, using the abbreviation of the nuclear deal’s formal name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
The JCPOA was signed between Iran and the six world powers and curbed Iran’s nuclear program in return for the lifting of international sanctions.
The United States, however, pulled out unilaterally and reimposed sweeping sanctions on Tehran. 
Iran remained in the deal, but was prompted to roll back on its commitments in reaction a year later. 
Indirect negotiations eventually began in April in Vienna to work out how both sides can resume compliance, but key bones of contention still remain after eight rounds of talks.
Khatibzadeh said Iran waiting for feedback on its initiatives, adding that the more determination the American and European sides show, the shorter it would take to reach an agreement. 
Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said a “good agreement” is available in short term and Iran’s practical, constructive and positive suggestions have paved the way for such a deal. 
“We are waiting for the US and three European parties to show seriousness in returning to their JCPOA commitments,” ISNA quoted him as saying in a news conference on Monday.  
He criticized American officials for talking of good faith, while so far nothing has happened on the ground as a visible and practical manifestation of such attitude. 
Amir-Abdollahian also said Iran is “in a hurry” to reach a good agreement, but within a logical negotiating framework and with a focus on upholding the rights of the Iranian nation. 
“If a deal is struck in Vienna and sanctions are removed today, it would be better than tomorrow for Iran.” 
He urged western sides to stop behaving on the basis of suspicion and “playing with time and scripts.”   



Final Stages 

A senior Iranian official has told Reuters that “some 30% of difficult issues remain to be resolved but it is possible to reach a deal by early March.” 
A western diplomat also said “reaching a deal is possible around early March, if all goes well.”
US State Department Spokesman Ned Price said in a press conference on Monday that the engaged parties are “in the final stages” of what is by any measure a complex negotiation with key stakeholders. 
“The fact is that this is the final decisive period during which we’ll be in a position to determine whether a mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA remains a possibility,” he explained. 
He said time is very “quickly ticking away” given the current rate of Iran’s nuclear advances. 
Amir-Abdollahian underlined the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear activities, even with the recent advancements, saying what disrupted the implementation of the JCPOA was the US exit and the European parties’ inaction. 
He also said intimidation and warnings do not determine the date of concluding the talks, but the US will to return to full JCPOA compliance does.   
China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin also said on Monday that Vienna negotiations have entered “the final stage”, presenting an important opportunity to bring the agreement back on track.
At this stage, he said, “all parties should persevere, uphold mutual respect, think out of the box, gather consensus and strive for breakthroughs on outstanding issues.”
“It is incumbent on the US, the culprit of the Iranian nuclear crisis, to take further active measures in exchange for reciprocal steps by the Iranian side so that all remaining issues may be resolved at an early date,” Wang said in a press briefing.  



Remaining Gaps  

Iran says it will reverse its nuclear steps once it verifies that all US sanctions are effectively removed, while Washington calls for a mutual return to compliance. 
American officials also say the US will remove sanctions inconsistent with the JCPOA, but will leave in place those imposed on different grounds. 
Khatibzadeh stressed that all sanctions inconsistent with the US commitments under the deal—and United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231 which endorsed it—must be removed at once regardless of their title.
“It does not matter how the sanctions are dubbed or under what phony label they have been imposed,” he said. 
Iran also demands guarantees that the US would not violate the deal again under a new president, but American officials have said the incumbent administration cannot guarantee that a future government would never renege on the agreement because it is classified as a non-binding political understanding, not a legally binding treaty.

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