Iran nuclear talks resume in Vienna after 5-month break

Iranian chief nuclear negotiator says main focus of Vienna meeting is removal of US sanctions.

Iran nuclear talks resume in Vienna after 5-month break

Following a five-month break, Iran and world powers on Monday kicked off talks in Vienna in a last-ditch attempt to restore the 2015 nuclear accord. 

Diplomats of Iran, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the UK convened at the luxury hotel Palais Coburg at 1300GMT amid dim expectations for an agreement.

Messages will be communicated to US diplomats as the Iranian side again refused to hold direct talks since the US is no longer party to the nuclear deal.

Ali Bagheri Kani, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, said his country had what he labeled a "serious will” to ensure the lifting of US sanctions during the new round of Vienna talks, according to Iran's official IRNA news agency.

Kani added that this round of talks will focus on the removal of sanctions, so a specified time could not be predicted for the seventh round of negotiations in Vienna.

He said the Monday meeting would focus on discussing the outlook of this round of talks, with a timetable to be announced later.

Meanwhile, Russia's top negotiator Mikhail Ulyanov reiterated in an interview with IRNA that he firmly believes that reaching an agreement is feasible in this round of negotiations.

He added he was optimistic about the current round of talks.

On lingering differences between Iran and the Western powers, Ulyanov said: "It is the task of diplomats to overcome differences and difficulties."

He said he is "optimistic" and believes that it will be "disastrous" if these processes fail to succeed.

"It might have very extremely negative consequences for everybody. So our task is preventing negative threats and overcoming them and bringing the negotiations to the successful conclusions," IRNA quoted Ulyanov as saying.  

‘Willingness to listen to Iran’

After the meeting, EU diplomat Enrique Mora told reporters that he feels “positive” that important things could happen in the weeks to come.

All participants showed a willingness to listen to the positions and “sensibilities” of the new Iranian delegation, Mora said. At the same time, Tehran’s team made clear it wants to engage in “serious work” to bring the accord back to life, he added.

“There is a sense of urgency in putting an end to the suffering of the Iranian people,” he said, adding that putting the Iranian nuclear program under the transparent monitoring of the international community is essential.

Several informal rounds of talks, including a trilateral meeting between Iran, China, and Russia, and another between Kani and Mora, were held on Sunday to set up the main negotiations.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as Iran nuclear deal, was signed in 2015 by Iran, the US, China, Russia, France, the UK, Germany, and the EU.

Under the agreement, Tehran has committed to limit its nuclear activity to civilian purposes and in return, the world powers agreed to drop their economic sanctions against Iran.

But in 2018, then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the agreement and reimposed tough sanctions on Iran, prompting Tehran to stop complying with the deal.

Both Tehran and Washington continue to maintain their tough positions. While Iran wants the removal of all US sanctions and guarantees given by Washington not to abandon the agreement again, the US is calling for Iran to comply with its commitments.

Earlier this month, Kani, who is also Iran's deputy foreign minister, visited London, Paris, and Berlin to resolve the nuclear impasse.

Hüseyin Demir