Senior Iranian diplomat briefs media on Vienna talks

December 5, 2021 - 21:38

TEHRAN – A senior Iranian foreign ministry diplomat has provided a detailed account of the last round of that Vienna talks that ended on Friday.

The diplomat said that Iran returned to the talks with a “pragmatic approach” and “clear plan.”

Commenting on the latest developments in the talks and the progress made, the unidentified diplomat said, “This was the first round of talks held by the new government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and given the unresolved deadlocks in the sixth round, it was clear in advance that no final outcome would be reached in this round. However, the government was of the opinion that the negotiating team should be present in Vienna during this round of talks, both in terms of expertise and composition, as well as in terms of texts and suggestions. This is because, firstly, the delegation left for Vienna on a mission to reach a good agreement, and secondly, it was predicted that some opposing parties might accuse the Islamic Republic of Iran of not being serious and not making clear proposals during this round of talks. The new government entered the talks with a fundamentally pragmatic and well-designed approach, and before the delegation's visit to Vienna, Iran's proposals were finalized and ready to be presented to the other side.”

The diplomat added, “It should be emphasized that the proposed text of Iran is based on the draft of the six previous rounds and the same text is used as the basis and the amendments and proposals proposed by Iran are specified and presented on the text. These proposals have not been and are not maximal in nature because they have been presented in full compliance with the JCPOA, but unfortunately the other side's approach to its obligations is minimal. In the same context, on the third day of the talks, the Islamic Republic’s delegation presented two draft texts outlining Iran's proposals and amendments, one on the lifting of sanctions and the other on nuclear issues.”

The diplomat noted, “I think that especially the European parties, as well as the United States, which is in constant contact with these three countries, did not expect that Iran at this stage enters the negotiations with a full text that is in compliance with the JCPOA and Security Council Resolution 2231 and falls in line with the common principles of the dialogue of the previous rounds. That is why the other side, since receiving these drafts, has raised the issue of stopping the dialogue and returning to the capitals for consultation.”

The diplomat stated, “Although the negotiating approach of the Iranian delegation was interactive yet necessarily flexible from the first day, unfortunately the three European countries lacked a high decision-making authority in Vienna. At the same time, they are constantly concerned about satisfying the American delegation and coordinating their positions with the American delegation. This is while these talks are taking place between Iran and the P4+1, not Iran and the United States (which is basically not a member of the JCPOA). But this European approach has challenged the progress of the talks.”

The diplomat continued, “It is clear that the Western parties, who came to Vienna with the idea of granting small concessions and receiving maximum concessions, were not completely satisfied with the proposed texts and clear demands of the Islamic Republic of Iran. But none of these countries could object to these texts or describe them as contradictory to the JCPOA. The only point made by these countries was that, firstly, they were not even willing to grant the concessions envisioned in the JCPOA, and secondly, they were not willing to re-discuss the issues raised in the drafts.”

The diplomat added, “But what has been achieved from the previous six rounds of negotiations is only a draft, and as has been said many times, there has always been a basic principle that there is no agreement unless everything is agreed. It is now clear that the U.S. reluctance to give up sanctions altogether is the most important challenge to the progress of the talks. We believe that whenever the U.S. government gives up its campaign of maximum pressure and the European parties show the necessary political will in the talks, the way is opened for a swift agreement.”

The diplomat also touched on the atmosphere of the talks, describing it as professional and frank. 

“Despite the differences in the positions of the parties, it should be noted that last week's talks were held in a professional and frank atmosphere, and the other sides also expressed their views in an atmosphere away from tension. In general, it can be said that a constructive atmosphere prevailed in the talks, and with the presentation of the draft texts by the Islamic Republic of Iran, an important and essential step forward was taken in the direction of the talks,” the diplomat noted.

The diplomat added, “Of course, as is clear from the name of these documents, we consider the proposed texts as negotiable drafts and we have also encouraged the other parties to put their clear texts and proposals on the table based on common principles and within the framework of the JCPOA. Although there were discussions on the text during this round of talks, we expect that in the next round of talks, which will begin next weekend, the other side will arrive in Vienna with accurate and logical written answers and possibly new practical ideas. In that case, one can hope that serious negotiations on the texts will begin. The other side needs to have both the interactive approach and the necessary flexibility.”

The diplomat further detailed the content of the Iranian proposals presented to the other side. “One of the points that has been emphasized in the talks with the other side is that all the sanctions imposed within the framework of the policy of maximum pressure are designed with the clear aim of eliminating the JCPOA, and therefore all these sanctions are related to the JCPOA. Another document describes the nuclear steps of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the quality of stopping the compensatory steps, if the sanctions are lifted. In this regard, it is emphasized that until the manner of lifting the sanctions is clarified and implemented, the Islamic Republic of Iran cannot be expected to stop its compensatory steps, which were not an initial action, but a reaction to the sanctions.”

The diplomat noted, “Of course, there are other drafts and our comments will be presented in the form of these drafts. The manner and timing of the verification, and the issue of obtaining a guarantee that the United States will not withdraw from the agreement are among the issues to be presented. In recent days, we have seen a number of senators and members of Congress threatening that the United States will pull out of the nuclear deal again if a Republican president comes to power. This shows the sharp divisions within the United States and the fact that the United States is not reliable in the negotiations and must return to the JCPOA with credible and acceptable guarantees. They are well aware that the Islamic Republic of Iran will not allow the recurrence of the misdeeds that occurred after the signing of the agreement in 2015 to take the Iranian economy hostage again.”

Responding to remarks by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken about the dim prospect of the talks, the diplomat said, “Contrary to what U.S. officials have said, I believe that an agreement is at hand if the other parties show good faith and stop playing useless blame game. The Islamic Republic of Iran has put pragmatic proposals on the table, and the other parties must respond appropriately or even present their new proposals and ideas in writing and clearly. I think making negative statements and making such statements is more of a negotiation tactic than related to the content of the talks and is an attempt by the other side to blame Iran in order to put pressure on the negotiators. It is enough for the opposing parties to exercise political will and declare their readiness to take the necessary practical steps. In that case, the way will be opened for agreement and settlement of disputes.”

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