Indirect negotiations between Tehran and Washington to resume the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement resumed in Vienna on Saturday (June 12) because the European Union stated that the negotiations were “vigorous” and Germany called for rapid progress.
The sixth round of negotiations began as usual, and the remaining parties to the agreement — Iran, Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, and the European Union — met in the basement of a luxury hotel.
Because Iran refused to meet face-to-face, the US delegation participating in the talks was called the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan (JCPoA) Joint Committee and was stationed in a hotel across the street.
Enrique Mora, the chief coordinator of the talks and EU foreign policy official, said that he hopes to reach an agreement in this round of talks. However, other envoys are more cautious, saying that many thorny issues remain to be resolved.
The EU spokesperson said in a statement to reporters: “We are making progress, but the negotiations are intense, and many issues (still exist), including how to implement the steps. “It is very close to the final agreement in the next few days.”
Iran’s top negotiator, Abbas Arakech, said that negotiations are unlikely to end before the Iranian presidential election on Friday.
“I don’t think we can reach a final conclusion in Vienna this week,” Iranian state media quoted Arakchi as saying.
The agreement or JCPoA imposes strict restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities and aims to extend the time it takes for Tehran to obtain enough fissile material for nuclear weapons from two to three months to at least one year.
Iran denies that it has sought nuclear weapons, saying its purpose is entirely peaceful.
President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the agreement in 2018 and re-imposed the economic sanctions lifted by the agreement. Iran’s response was to violate many of these restrictions, producing more enriched uranium than allowed and enriching it to a higher purity level, which has recently approached weapon grade.
“It is not in anyone’s interest to buy time,” German Foreign Minister Heikomas, who did not participate in the talks, told Reuters, urging all parties to show flexibility and pragmatism.
China’s top special envoy said that the main crux lies in the sanctions imposed by the United States. Wang Qun, China’s ambassador to the UN nuclear supervisory agency, told reporters: “Our message to them (the United States) is that they should take decisive action to lift sanctions and stop hesitating.”
Regarding the steps Iran must take to restore compliance with the agreement, Wang said: “To a large extent, the main problem has been resolved as a matter of principle, but I think there are some solutions (left).”