JCPOA Joint Commission to meet in Vienna Tuesday, there won’t be direct Iran-U.S. talks

April 2, 2021 - 18:29

TEHRAN - Officials from Tehran and Washington will travel to Vienna on Tuesday as part of efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and P5+1 countries, though they will not hold direct talks, diplomats said on Friday.

The decision was taken after the Joint Commission of the JCPOA – the official name for the 2015 nuclear deal – which is led by the European Union foreign policy chief held a virtual meeting on Friday.  

Analysts said even without face-to-face talks, which Tehran has ruled out, the presence of both of Iran and the United States in Vienna would mark a step forward in efforts to bring both sides back into compliance with the accord.

“Iran and the U.S. will be in the same town, but not the same room,” a European diplomatic source said. A Western diplomat said a shuttle diplomacy approach would be adopted.

Iran, China, Russia, France, Germany and Britain – the remaining parties to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action - discussed on Friday the possible return to it by the United States, and how to ensure full and effective implementation by all sides.

The EU, which is coordinating efforts to revive the deal, said next week’s participants in Vienna would seek to “clearly identify sanctions-lifting and nuclear implementation measures,” including through convening meetings of relevant expert groups, Reuters reported.

“In this context, the coordinator will also intensify separate contacts in Vienna with all JCPOA participants and the United States,” it added in a statement.

After Friday’s meeting, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, a senior negotiator in the talks, said the United States would not be present at any session attended by Iran in Vienna and affirmed Iran’s stance on what needed to be done.

“Iran will suspend its steps (scaling back compliance with the deal’s terms) as soon as (U.S.) sanctions are lifted and this is verified,” Araqchi said.

Writing on his Twitter page, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said “at virtual JCPOA Joint Commission meeting Iran and EU/E3+2 agreed to resume in-person talks in Vienna next Tuesday.”

Zarif also said the aim of meeting is to “rapidly finalize sanction-lifting and nuclear measures for choreographed removal of all sanctions, followed by Iran ceasing remedial measures.”

Zarif added direct meeting between Iran and the United States in Vienna will be “unnecessary”.

A year after the Trump administration quit the JCPOA and slapped sanctions on Iran, Iran started to gradually remove ban on certain aspects of its nuclear activities. Iran’s remedial measures were based on paragraph 36 of the JCPOA.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said it was good that talks were resuming, but time was of the essence.

Russia’s ambassador to the UN atomic watchdog said Friday’s talks had given him the impression they were on the right track but the way ahead would not be easy.

Senior European Union diplomat Enrique Mora chaired the talks on Friday. In a tweet, Mora said, “Positive meeting today. We will reconvene in Vienna next week. Substantial work ahead for a key opportunity to bring #JCPOA back to life.”

After the conclusion of the virtual meeting, the EU issued a statement which reads as follows:

A meeting of the Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was held virtually on Friday, 2 April. Under the terms of the JCPOA, the Joint Commission is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the agreement. The Joint Commission was chaired, on behalf of EU High Representative Josep Borrell, by the EEAS Deputy Secretary General Enrique Mora and was attended by representatives of China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and Iran at the level of Deputy Foreign Ministers/Political Directors. 

In line with the joint ministerial statement of 21 December participants recognised the prospect of a full return of the US to the JCPOA, and underlined their readiness to positively address this in a joint effort.  Participants also emphasised their commitment to preserve the JCPOA and discussed modalities to ensure the return to its full and effective implementation.

Participants agreed to resume this session of the Joint Commission in Vienna next week, in order to clearly identify sanctions lifting and nuclear implementation measures, including through convening meetings of the relevant expert groups. In this context, the coordinator will also intensify separate contacts in Vienna with all JCPOA participants and the United States.

PA/PA

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