IIn Vienna, nuclear talks with Iran resumed on Thursday after a month-long hiatus. Initially, individual negotiators from Iran, Germany, France, Great Britain, Russia and China met for bilateral talks at the working level. The European Union, which is represented by its top diplomat Enrique Mora, is leading the conversation.
American chief negotiator Robert Malley has also traveled to Vienna, but it remains the case that the Iranians do not want to speak directly to the Americans since the United States, under former President Donald Trump, withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal (JCPOA) and is imposing sanctions to have. Since then, the Iranian side has also violated all the specifications and restrictions for its nuclear program and has enriched uranium to just before it is ready for weapons.
Washington has low expectations
The current talks are about finding a way for all sides to comply with the provisions of the JCPOA again. A largely negotiated draft for a renewed agreement has been on the table since March. But the talks have stalled since then. The reason for this is the geopolitical framework since Russia invaded Ukraine. In addition, Washington and Tehran recently argued that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards are on American terrorist lists – even if that actually has nothing directly to do with the nuclear program and the JCPOA.
Malley announced in advance that his expectations of success at the negotiating table in Vienna were limited. We welcome the efforts of the EU and have the best of intentions – whether that is also the case on the Iranian side will soon become clear, the American special representative tweeted. Conversely, it was reported from Tehran that the Americans had an obligation to deliver, since they had originally withdrawn from the JCPOA.
The prevailing view in Vienna is that the coming weeks until the end of August will offer the last chance to revive the 2015 agreement. On the one hand, Iran’s enrichment program is very advanced. From the data of the International Atomic Energy Agency it can be calculated that Iran should already have enough material enriched to 60 percent to have enough weapons-grade material for a bomb with a small further enrichment step to 90 percent. On the other hand, it is to be expected that the upcoming American midterm elections in November will make a “deal” later than the end of August politically impossible for Congress.
Russian negotiator Mikhail Ulyanov said he met EU diplomat Mora on Thursday morning. “We exchanged our views on what steps need to be taken to restore the agreement,” Ulyanov tweeted. He also met with the Iranian negotiator Bagheri. Mora, who is coordinating the negotiations, wrote on Twitter that the current talks are based on a draft text that has been slightly changed since the last round of negotiations at the beginning of March and has been on the table since July 20.
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