Tense Iran nuclear talks to resume on Thursday in Vienna

European diplomats urge Tehran to come back with 'realistic proposals' this week

Deputy Secretary General and Political Director of the European External Action Service (EEAS), Enrique Mora,
addresses the media as he leaves the 'Grand Hotel Wien' where closed-door nuclear talks with Iran take place in Vienna, Austria, Wednesday, June 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Lisa Leutner)

The European diplomat chairing the seventh round of nuclear talks between Iran and world powers says negotiations in Vienna will resume on Thursday.

Enrique Mora said on Wednesday on Twitter that the parties to the 2015 Vienna accord will meet in the Austrian capital after consulting with their governments in recent days.

European diplomats had urged Tehran to come back with “realistic proposals” after Iran’s delegation last week made demands that were deemed unacceptable by the other parties to the accord – Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia.

The US withdrew from the agreement in 2018 under former US president Donald Trump. His successor, Joe Biden, has indicated that Washington is willing to return, and American diplomats in Vienna are being briefed by other powers.

The Vienna accord, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was meant to rein in Tehran’s nuclear programme in return for loosening economic sanctions against Iran.

After the US decision to withdraw and reimpose sanctions, Iran has increased its nuclear programme again by enriching uranium beyond the thresholds allowed in the agreement.

Tehran has also restricted access to its nuclear plants to monitors from the UN atomic watchdog, raising concerns about what Iran is doing behind closed doors.

The US State Department announced on Wednesday that special envoy for Iran Rob Malley plans to travel to Vienna at the weekend for the round of talks.

“Some of the thorny issues that confronted us in terms of potentially returning to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action were resolved or were on a pathway to resolution” in previous rounds of talks, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said in Washington on Wednesday before the resumption of talks was announced.

“It was our hope that we would find the Iranians returning to Vienna prepared to work on those remaining issues, building on the progress that had been made in [rounds] one through six.

“That is not what we found. It is our hope that round eight proceeds differently.”

Russia’s top representative expressed hope that an agreement could eventually be reached.

Mikhail Ulyanov tweeted on Thursday that contacts with the US and Iran “prove that both sides are very serious” about reviving the deal, although he said that “their visions of relevant ways and means differ".

“The task of the negotiators is to overcome these differences. It’s feasible in the light of unity of purpose,” Mr Ulyanov said.

Updated: December 8th 2021, 10:33 PM