Vienna talks nearing conclusion: IAEA chief

March 16, 2022 - 23:8

TEHRAN- Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Grossi has hinted out that striking an agreement with Iran is nearing completion.

Speaking with FRANCE 24, Grossi said that he believed there had been a problem in recent days as a result of restrictions and sanctions imposed due to the situation in Ukraine. Consequently, he said, some issues discussed in the Vienna talks for the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal have remained ambiguous.

The international community now has a “way forward” with Iran, the IAEA chief said.

The director general went on to say that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is a multifaceted mechanism that imposes a set of constraints on Iran while also giving incentives, technical cooperation, and projects to Tehran.

Such collaborations, of course, take shape under the supervision of the IAEA, including trade activities such as purchasing equipment from countries such as China and Russia, he said, adding that this part of the agreement was suddenly shrouded in mystery, causing a pause in the Vienna talks and negotiators to return to their capitals for further consultations.

Meanwhile, Grossi raised severe worries about the safety of Ukraine's 15 nuclear power reactors in the aftermath of Russia's operation in Ukraine.

Grossi stated that he has had positive talks with the opposing parties, who both agree that "something needs to be done" to assure the safety of the facilities, but that the IAEA is still working on an agreement to ensure that the risk “of a nuclear accident is completely excluded.”

The IAEA chief also expressed delight with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's statements on receiving written guarantees from the United States, expressing hope that an agreement would be reached soon.

In a joint news conference with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir Abdollahian in Moscow on Tuesday, Lavrov stated that Russia has written guarantees and that such assurances have been mentioned in the text of an agreement to restore the JCPOA.

Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia's permanent representative to international organizations in Vienna, said in tweet on Tuesday that “we observe a lot of speculations regarding ‘last-minute Russia’s demands at the final stage of the Vienna talks which allegedly block the agreement on restoration of JCPOA’. This is a lie, as I tweeted a number of times over the last week. Some demands were accepted, by the way.”

The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Saeed Khatibzadeh, stated on Monday that the negotiators' return to respective capitals is a short interval, noting that some observers have portrayed the scenario as the conclusion of talks, but the pause came at the request of European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, whose deputy Enrique Mora acts the coordinator of the talks in Vienna.

Khatibzadeh also stated that there are remaining concerns that must be resolved in Washington.

“Pause in #ViennaTalks could be a momentum for resolving any remaining issue and a final return,” Khatibzadeh said in a tweet. 

Delegations from Iran, the European Union, and the P4+1 group (Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany) met in Vienna for eight rounds of talks to decide if the U.S. should return to the agreement and lift anti-Iran sanctions. The talks started in April 2021.

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