US, Iran To Hold Breakthrough Talks On Nuclear Deal In Vienna

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US, Iran To Hold Breakthrough Talks On Nuclear Deal In Vienna

Iran’s nuclear enrichment facility in Natanz in 300 kms 186 (miles) south of capital Tehran, Iran, Monday April, 9, 2007. (AP Photo/Hasan Sarbakhshian)

On April 2, the US and Iran reached a breakthrough agreement to kick start indirect talks on the 2015 nuclear deal.

The agreement came nearly three years after President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the deal, which is sponsored by the UK, China, France, Germany and Russia. The deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), restricted Iran’s nuclear program in return for relief from US and international sanctions.

US and Iranian officials will hold the first round of talks in the Austrian capital Vienna on April 6 through intermediaries.

The agreement on the start of indirect talks came after the European Union brokered a virtual meeting of officials from the UK, China, France, Germany, Russia and Iran.

Iranian state television quoted Abbas Araghchi, Iran’s nuclear negotiator at the virtual meeting, as saying in the meeting that any “return by the U.S. to the nuclear deal does not require any negotiation and the path is quite clear.”

“The U.S. can return to the deal and stop breaching the law in the same way it withdrew from the deal and imposed illegal sanctions on Iran,” Araghchi said.

Meanwhile, State Department spokesperson Ned Price called the resumption of negotiations a “healthy step forward.” He added that “these remain early days, and we don’t anticipate an immediate breakthrough as there will be difficult discussions ahead.”

According to Price, the talks will be structured around working groups that the EU was forming with the remaining participants in the accord, including Iran.

“The primary issues that will be discussed are the nuclear steps that Iran would need to take in order to return to compliance with the terms of the JCPOA, and the sanctions relief steps that the United States would need to take in order to return to compliance as well,” Price said, according to the Associated Press.

Iran abandoned many of its commitments under the JCPOA in the last two years in response to the US withdrawal of the deal. Most recently, Tehran began enriching Uranium with new centrifuge cascade.

The upcoming indirect talks in Vienna demonstrate the US and Iran willingness to return to the JCPOA. The two sides may later move to direct talks. The US didn’t rule out this possibility in the near future.

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