Vienna Talks Pause, Contacts Continue to Secure Deal

Vienna Talks Pause, Contacts Continue to Secure Deal
Vienna Talks Pause, Contacts Continue to Secure Deal

The top EU diplomat on Friday announced a pause in talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, saying his team will remain in contact with all parties to secure the restoration of the agreement.
Indirect negotiations between Iran and the United States in the Austrian capital Vienna have been underway since April to work out how both countries can come back into compliance with the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which has been unravelling since Washington pulled out and Iran rolled back on its commitments in response to the reimposed American sanctions. 
Major progress has been made after 11 months of talks and a possible deal is now down to a small number of outstanding issues, according to diplomats. 
A pause is needed in talks to revive the nuclear deal due to external factors, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said, in an apparent reference to Russia’s demand for immunity from western sanctions.
“A final text is essentially ready and on the table,” Borrell said on Twitter. 
The largely completed talks have been recently challenged by Russia’s demand for guarantees that Russian trade and cooperation with Iran would not be affected by sanctions imposed on Moscow over its conflict in Ukraine, a demand Western powers say is unacceptable and Washington has insisted it will not entertain. 
The US State Department on Thursday said Washington has no intention of offering Russia anything new or specific as it relates to sanctions on Moscow in talks to reach a nuclear deal with Iran.
Borrell also said, “As coordinator, I will, with my team, continue to be in touch with all #JCPOA participants and the US to overcome the current situation and to close the agreement.”
A senior Iranian diplomat said the pause in the talks may create momentum for resolving any remaining issues.
“Pause in #ViennaTalks could be a momentum for resolving any remaining issue and a final return. Successful conclusion of talks will be the main focus of all,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said on Twitter. “No external factor will affect our joint will to go forward for a collective agreement.”



Maximalist Demands 

White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said on Thursday that negotiators are close to an agreement and the US would continue to have diplomatic talks with Iran, adding that “the end of negotiations is always when the difficult and challenging parts of the conversation typically take place.”
At the same time, reports are emerging that the US is making some last-minute demands, and Iranian officials are quick to shut them down, saying defensive weapons are not to be part of this deal.
Details of what the US broached have not been made public but Iran is being very public in rejecting the idea of attaching either their defensive missiles or their space program to the pact.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said making new demands by the US has no logical justifications and contradicts Washington’s push for a swift agreement. 
“Main issues and effective removal of sanctions must not be affected by the American side’s maximalist demands,” he said in a Thursday phone conversation with Borrell, ISNA reported. 
He did not specify what demands the US has made, but stressed that “some issues regarding our national heroes are not negotiable.” 
Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani has also blamed the US approach as an impediment to reaching an agreement in Vienna.  
“US approach to Iran’s principled demands, coupled with its unreasonable offers and unjustified pressure to hastily reach an agreement, show that US isn’t interested in a strong deal that would satisfy both parties,” he said on Twitter.
“Absent US political decision, the talks get knottier by the hour,” he added. 
Iran wants a complete removal of sanctions before reversing its nuclear steps. It also demands guarantees that no future US president would violate the deal again.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi also reiterated in a tweet on Thursday that his administration pursues the neutralization of sanctions as a primary step, while holding honorable negotiations to remove them as a secondary effort. 
“The government holds negotiations completely within the framework defined by the Leader, has not backed down on any of the declared redlines and will not do so.”

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