European powers see progress, but some way to go in Iran talks

Reuters , Wednesday 21 Apr 2021

A US delegation is in a separate location in Vienna, enabling the powers to shuttle between both sides

Iran Talks
This handout photo taken and released by the EU Delegation in Vienna on April 20, 2021 shows delegation members from the parties to the Iran nuclear deal - Germany, France, Britain, China, Russia and Iran – attending a meeting at the Grand Hotel of Vienna as they try to restore the deal AFP

The European parties to the Iran nuclear deal have seen progress in the first two rounds of negotiations to revive the 2015 accord but said on Wednesday that there were still major hurdles to overcome.

The talks, aimed at bringing Iran and the United States back into compliance with the agreement, will pick up again next week.

Iran and world powers - Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia - have been meeting in Vienna since early April to hammer out steps that must be taken, touching on U.S. sanctions and Tehran's breaches of the deal's limits on its uranium enrichment capacity.

A U.S. delegation is in a separate location in Vienna, enabling the powers to shuttle between both sides.

"We welcome the constructive discussions that have taken place in Vienna, and the positive participation by all sides so far," diplomats from France, Britain and Germany, known as the E3, told reporters.

"We have made some progress but there is still a way to go."

Under the accord, Iran agreed to curb its nuclear work in return for relief from U.S. and other sanctions.

U.S. President Joe Biden's administration, which took office in January seeking to rejoin the accord, has said it is ready to remove "all sanctions that are inconsistent" with the deal, although not spelling out which measures it means.

Iran's clerical establishment has said it will not return to strict observance of the 2015 agreement unless all sanctions reimposed or added by former President Donald Trump after he abandoned the accord in 2018 are rescinded.

"We encourage all sides to seize the diplomatic opportunity in front of us," the diplomats said. "We condemn escalatory measures by any actor which could jeopardise progress."

The talks were complicated after an explosion at Iran's main uranium enrichment facility at Natanz last week, which Tehran blamed on its arch foe Israel. Israel has not commented formally on the incident.

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