The U.S. Cites 'Progress' but Warns Nuclear Deal Could Die Without Urgent Iranian Action
Shafaq News/ The United States says its talks with Iran on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal made progress, but much work remains to prevent what is left of the agreement.
A senior State Department official cited two examples of "modest" progress at the talks in Vienna involving the U.S., Iran, and five world powers acting as mediators between the two sides.
According to VOA, the first was Iran's agreement to let the International Atomic Energy Agency reinstall cameras that allow U.N. inspectors to observe an Iranian nuclear facility manufacturing advanced centrifuges in the city of Karaj. In June, those cameras were damaged in what Iran called an act of sabotage by its regional rival Israel, which has neither confirmed nor denied involvement.
The second example cited by the U.S. official is a joint U.S. and Iranian understanding of a text that will serve as a basis for negotiations on what parts of Iran's nuclear program may be curbed in return for a lifting of U.S. sanctions against Tehran.
"What we have is a plan of issues to be examined, not a set of solutions to be accepted. So there still is a lot of work to do," the official said.
The U.S. official also said Iran's recent advances in its nuclear program that the West fears could be weaponized make it more urgent for Tehran to return to the curbs on that program previously agreed to under the 2015 deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Earlier Friday, Ali Bagheri Kani, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator and deputy foreign minister, tweeted that "good progress" had been made in Vienna in Iran's seventh round of indirect talks with the U.S., following six previous rounds held from April to June.
Bagheri Kani added that Iran "will continue talks after a break of a few days." However, there was no word from any of the parties at the talks as to exactly when the talks would resume.
Iran has said its priority in Vienna is securing the lifting of all U.S. sanctions, which have weakened an economy plagued by government corruption and mismanagement. However, Tehran has declined to state publicly which nuclear activities it might curb in return.
Washington has said any sanctions relief for Iran should be limited to nuclear-related sanctions lifted under the 2015 deal and reinstated later by Trump, rather than sanctions imposed by Trump and Biden in response to Iran's missile development, arming of regional proxies, and poor human rights record.
Before departing Vienna, Bagheri Kani told Iranian state news agency IRNA that Iran had persuaded the three European mediators involved in the talks, U.S. allies Britain, France, and Germany, to "accept Iran's position as a basis for serious and effective negotiations."
But the senior State Department official, responding to a question from a VOA Persian reporter in Vienna, said the U.S. does not believe Iran's position is entirely consistent with the JCPOA.
"It's hard even to define sometimes what their proposal is, but they certainly have taken positions ... that are either beyond or inconsistent with the JCPOA. It is a common view of all of the members of the P5+1 that the only ideas that should be entertained are those that are consistent with the deal that was negotiated in 2015 and 2016."
The P5+1 refers to the U.S. and the four other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — Britain, France, China, and Russia — plus Germany.
The U.S. official expressed hope that Iran would agree to the eighth round of Vienna talks soon.