Top nuclear negotiator briefs lawmakers on Vienna talks

May 24, 2021 - 18:3

TEHRAN – Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araghchi, who led the Iranian negotiating team at the Vienna nuclear talks, attended a “very tough” meeting at the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee on Sunday to discuss the latest developments concerning the nuclear talks. 

Abolfazl Amouei, spokesman for the Committee, said on Sunday that Araghchi briefed the lawmakers on the nuclear negotiations. “The deputy foreign minister presented a report on the latest state of the Vienna talks,” Amouei told reporters after the meeting.

“This meeting was held in the presence of our country's chief negotiator Araghchi in order to review the latest status of the Vienna talks and in line with the parliamentary oversight status,” he continued. “This meeting was held for a relatively long time with the presence of the members of the Committee and after the fourth round of negotiations between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the P4+1 group of countries. During the meeting, Mr. Araghchi presented a report on the negotiation process. During the meeting, the deputy foreign minister gave explanations to the deputies regarding the course of several rounds of negotiations.”

Amouei also elaborated on the policy Iran follows in the nuclear talks, saying Iran is pursuing a number of important policies in the talks. 

“We are pursuing several important policies in these negotiations. The main policy is to lift all sanctions and to verify the lifting of these sanctions. After that, the Islamic Republic is ready to return to its previous commitments. It was also the deputies’ demand that these core policies be carefully followed and that all components be carefully followed by the negotiating team,” Amouei pointed out.

The spokesman added, “According to Mr. Araghchi, in these negotiations, the negotiating team of the Islamic Republic of Iran, due to its diplomatic logic regarding the lifting of the sanctions, has been able to bring a large part of the sanctions to a stage where the Western and American sides accept that they should be lifted.”

Araghchi has just returned to Iran after concluding the fourth round of the Vienna talks, which are aimed at reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The last meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission was held last week on Wednesday. After the meeting, Araghchi said good progress was made during the talks but they needed to return to capitals in order to make some final decisions.

“After two weeks of negotiations, we will have a meeting to conclude, and then the delegations will return to the capitals for consultations,” Araghchi told Iran’s state media.

He added, “There are a few key issues that need further review and decision-making in the capitals, and we hope that they will take place in the next few days and that we will be able to conclude on these issues in the next round of talks.”

According to Araghchi, intensive talks and meetings were held at all levels.  He said that Iran and its negotiating partners had bilateral and multilateral talks at expert and political levels. “During these discussions, we tried to reach a conclusion on the issues at stake, either to resolve the differences or to decrease them, and the result is that we are in a position where we can have a general conclusion,” he pointed out.

He continued, “There are some key issues that need to be resolved and there is agreement on the rest; the texts have been well written and so now is the time to go back to the capitals and have the final consultations and then continue the negotiations.”

Araghchi, along with a delegation of Iranian experts and diplomats, left Tehran for Vienna nearly two weeks ago to start the fourth round of talks over the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal. The fourth round ended last week with all negotiating partners, except for the U.S., lauding progress made in the talks. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday claimed that his country has not seen yet whether Iran will move to comply with its nuclear commitments in order to have sanctions removed even as ongoing talks have shown progress, according to Reuters. 

“Iran, I think, knows what it needs to do to come back into compliance on the nuclear side, and what we haven't yet seen is whether Iran is ready and willing to make a decision to do what it has to do. That's the test and we don't yet have an answer,” Blinken told ABC News’ “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” program.

The comments elicited a response from Araghchi who implied that the ball is now in the U.S.’s court. 

“Yesterday I spent 4hrrs before our Parliament's National Security/Foreign Policy Commission to brief MPs on Vienna talks. Very tough. But useful. Bottom line is same: Having left JCPOA, U.S. must first provide verifiable sanctions lifting. Iran will then resume full implementation. Is the U.S. ready?” the top Iranian nuclear negotiator said on Twitter. 

In late April, Araghchi said the U.S. sanctions on Iran were divided into two categories, one imposed on economic entities and activities while the other imposed on Iranian individuals. The first category seems to have been resolved as the U.S. agreed to lift sectoral sanctions, according to Amouei.

“As regards sectoral sanctions, according to the report presented by [Iranian] negotiators, the logic of the Islamic Republic of Iran has prevailed and the American side has announced that it can lift these sanctions, but in the case of the components of sanctions, there are unresolved issues to be settled,” Amouei said.

On human rights sanctions, Amouei said that these sanctions were tied by the American side to human rights and regional issues. 

“Some of the sanctions are still a point of contention in the negotiations, and according to the claims of the West and the American side, and according to Mr. Araghchi, the Americans have tied them to regional and human rights issues. And in this context, the [Iranian] delegation demanded that all sanctions should be lifted. Also, the issue of verification is one of the concerns that should be addressed, and the demand of the Islamic Republic is that sanctions should be lifted fundamentally and practically, and not just on paper,” the spokesman stated, adding that “one of the important demands of the deputies in this meeting was the strict implementation of the verification of the lifting of sanctions, and Dr. Araghchi also said that talks are underway in this regard and negotiations are underway in earnest.”

Iran has announced that it will continue the Vienna talks until the negotiating partners reach a final agreement.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani stated at a meeting of the Administration's Economic Coordination Headquarters on Sunday that Iran will continue to hold negotiations in Vienna until a final agreement is reached.

He added that, in light of the recent round of talks in Vienna, the U.S. has explicitly stated its willingness to lift sanctions against Iran in accordance with the JCPOA.

Underlining Iran’s economic achievements, the president stated that figures showing an increase in Iranian industrial products indicate that the U.S.'s policy of maximum pressure has been ineffective.

According to Rouhani, the U.S. has conceded that its anti-Iran strategies have failed.

On April 6, a new round of discussions to resurrect the JCPOA began in Vienna between Iran and the remaining parties to the 2015 nuclear deal.

The U.S. withdrew from the JCPOA in May 2018 and reinstated sweeping economic sanctions that were lifted under the deal. Tehran responded to the U.S. unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA by gradually reducing nuclear commitments envisioned in the JCPOA. To this end, Iran raised the level of uranium enrichment and installed new, advanced centrifuges at the Fordow and Natanz nuclear facilities. 

SM/PA
 

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