Iran's Khamenei says nuclear talks 'progressing well'

Tehran has been engaged for a year in talks to revive the original 2015 nuclear deal

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said talks were 'progressing well'. AFP
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Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Tuesday that negotiations to restore the 2015 nuclear deal were advancing but urged officials not to place all bets on the Vienna talks.

“Work is progressing well in the negotiations,” Mr Khamenei told Iranian officials including President Ebrahim Raisi.

“Do not stop your work to wait for the results of the negotiations,” whatever they may be, he said in remarks published on his website.

Iran has been engaged for a year in talks with France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China directly, and the US indirectly, to revive the nuclear deal, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

The 2015 agreement gave Iran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programme to guarantee that Tehran could not develop a nuclear weapon — something it has always denied wanting to do.

But the US's unilateral withdrawal from the accord in 2018 under Donald Trump's presidency and the reimposition of biting economic sanctions led Iran to break its commitments under the agreement.

“Our negotiating team has until now resisted the excessive demands of the other party and will continue doing so,” Mr Khamenei said.

“It is the other party that has broken its promises (by pulling out of the accord) and they have arrived at an impasse,” he said, referring to the US.

On Sunday, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian accused Washington of “imposing new conditions” in the negotiations, without going into detail.

Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh on Monday questioned Washington's willingness to reach an agreement, as key sticking points remain unresolved.

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The talks have been paused since March 11, having progressed most of the way towards reviving the deal, with different parties pointing to the “final phase".

But pending issues are still unresolved, foremost among them Tehran's demand to remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the ideological arm of Iran's military, from a US list of terrorist groups.

The US insisted last week that the IRGC's' elite Quds Force would remain on its designated list of terrorist groups.

Updated: April 12, 2022, 9:27 PM