Tense nuclear talks with Iran to resume Thursday in Vienna

AP , Wednesday 8 Dec 2021

The European diplomat chairing nuclear talks between Iran and world powers says negotiations in Vienna will resume Thursday.

Enrique Mora
Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS) Enrique Mora speaks to journalists in front of the Coburg palace after a meeting of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in Vienna on December 3, 2021. AFP

Enrique Mora said Wednesday on Twitter that the parties to the 2015 Vienna accord will meet in the Austrian capital after consulting with their governments in recent days.

European diplomats had urged Tehran to come back with "realistic proposals'' after Iran's delegation last week made numerous demands that were deemed unacceptable by the other parties to the accord, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia.

The United States withdrew from the agreement in 2018 under former U.S. President Donald Trump. His successor Joe Biden has indicated that the U.S. is willing to return, and American diplomats in Vienna are being briefed by other powers.

The Vienna accord, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was meant to rein in Tehran's nuclear program in return for loosening economic sanctions against Iran.

Following the U.S. decision to withdraw and reimpose sanctions, Iran has ramped up its nuclear program again by enriching uranium beyond the thresholds allowed in the agreement. Tehran has also restricted monitors from the U.N. atomic watchdog from accessing its nuclear facilities, raising concerns about what the country is doing behind closed doors.

But Russia's top representative expressed hope that an agreement could eventually be reached at the talks.

Mikhail Ulyanov tweeted that contacts with the United States and Iran "prove that both sides are very serious'' about reviving the deal, though he added that ``their visions of relevant ways and means differ.''

"The task of the negotiators is to overcome these differences. It's feasible in the light of unity of purpose,'' he said.

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