Top Iran and US negotiators to resume frayed nuclear talks in Vienna

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanani said on Wednesday (August 3) that in a statement that it was sending a delegation to Vienna to resume talks to revive the 2015 agreement on its nuclear programme. 

A top nuclear negotiator and a senior US envoy will travel this week. The plan was notified by the officials from both governments as the process that was stalled in June appears to have been rekindled. 

Kanani said, “As part of the policy of lifting cruel sanctions against our country, Iran’s negotiating team led by Ali Bagheri, the Islamic republic’s chief negotiator, will leave for Vienna in a few hours.” 

A US official said Rob Malley, who is the US special envoy for Iran, will travel to Vienna for talks this week on reviving the nuclear agreement. The official did not provide any other details. 

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Differences and conflicts between Iran and the United States are the reason why the talks related to the 2015 nuclear deal remained stagnant after the negotiations began in April 2021 in Vienna. 

The two sides have negotiated indirectly through the European Union coordinator in a bid to bring the US back into the deal and to lift sanctions on Iran, on the basis that Tehran would return to its nuclear commitments. 

When the deal was signed in 2015, Iran agreed to a pact with six major powers to limit its nuclear program. After the pact, it was harder for Iran to obtain a weapon in return for relief from economic sanctions. 

In a turn of events, then US President Donald Trump reneged on the deal in 2018 and reimposed harsh sanctions on Iran. The decision by the former US president led Tehran to start violating the agreement’s nuclear limits about a year later. 

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What’s the progress of negotiations? 

At the end of June, Qatar hosted indirect talks between the US and Iran. Last week, the EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell submitted a new draft text and urged all sides to accept it or “risk a dangerous nuclear crisis”. Borrell is also the coordinator of the nuclear talks between Iran and world powers. 

Expressing “optimism”, Kanani added: In this round of talks, which will take place as before with the coordination of the EU, discussions will be held regarding the ideas presented by the parties including those presented this week by Iran to the other party.” 

The statement added that Iran hoped “the opposing parties will resolve the situation by taking the necessary decisions and seriously focusing on resolving the remaining issues”. 

(With inputs from agencies) 

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