Iran's Rouhani upbeat on accord at talks to lift sanctions

US officials returned to Vienna this week for a fourth round of indirect talks with Iran

In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani speaks in a meeting in Tehran, Iran, on Dec. 9, 2020. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)
In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani speaks in a meeting in Tehran, Iran, on Dec. 9, 2020. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday he was optimistic over talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and suggested a deal had been reached to lift the main sanctions on Tehran, state media reported.

Only the details remained to be agreed, Mr Rouhani said, although there was no immediate confirmation from US officials or from the other parties to the accord.

"We've reached a point where the Americans and the Europeans are saying openly they have no choice but to lift sanctions and return to the [nuclear deal], and that almost all main sanctions have been lifted and talks continue on some details," the state media cited Mr Rouhani as saying.

US officials returned to Vienna this week for the fourth round of indirect talks with Iran on how to resume compliance with the deal. Former US resident Donald Trump had abandoned the accord in 2018, prompting Iran to begin violating its terms about a year later.

The crux of the agreement was that Iran committed to take steps to rein in its nuclear programme to make it harder to obtain the fissile material for a nuclear weapon in return for relief from US, EU and UN sanctions.

Tehran denies having nuclear weapons ambitions.

Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said earlier on Saturday the US had an obligation to help revive the nuclear deal, after US President Joe Biden said it was unclear how serious Tehran was about talks.

Asked if he thought Tehran was serious, Mr Biden replied: "Yes, but how serious, and what they are prepared to do is a different story."

Updated: May 9, 2021 11:05 AM

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