US and Iranian officials will visit Vienna next week as part of efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear pact between Tehran and the major world powers, although the two countries do not plan to negotiate directly, the department confirmed on Friday. of American state. ).
Even without face-to-face dialogues, the presence of Tehran and Washington in the Austrian capital from the 6th will mark an important step in bringing all parts of the agreement back to discussion. The aim is to reach a new deal within two months, a European Union (EU) official said.
Former President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the deal in 2018 and reinstated sanctions against Iran, forcing Tehran to violate some of the previously agreed nuclear restrictions.
Republican successor Joe Biden wants to revive the deal, but the two countries disagree on who should take the first step to resume negotiations. The Democrat was Vice President of the United States under the administration of Barack Obama when the agreement was signed.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price confirmed that Washington would meet with European partners, in addition to Russia and China, to identify issues related to the return to the nuclear pact.
“We’re still in the early stages and we don’t plan for an immediate advance, as there will be some tough talks ahead. But it’s a healthy step,” Price said in a statement. “We do not anticipate direct talks with Iran through this process, although the United States remains open to them.”
For Abbas Araghchi, Iran’s nuclear pact negotiator, the United States’ return to the deal does not require talks, and the path to such a decision is clear, according to Persian state television. Tehran insists that since Washington was the party that left the treaty, the Americans must return to it before Iran, a position that puts environmental hurdles that the dialogues in Vienna seek to offer.
Mikhail Ulyanov, Russian Ambassador to International Organizations in Vienna, said that apparently “we are on the right track, but the way forward will not be easy and will require intense efforts.” “The stakeholders seem to be ready for this.”
The negotiations will aim to formulate a list of sanctions that the Americans can withdraw and, on the other hand, of commitments that the Iranians can meet as part of their nuclear program, according to a European diplomat. Reaching consensus, he said, should take more than two months of dialogue. The official said if negotiations fail after this period, “it would certainly be bad news.”
This Friday, Iran, China, Russia, France, Germany and the United Kingdom, all signatory members of the 2015 agreement, held virtual meetings to detect where it is possible to progress towards the resumption of the agreement.
On Twitter, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote that the aim is to quickly end the withdrawal of sanctions, which he said will be followed by “corrective measures” from Tehran. “No meetings between Iran and the United States. Useless,” added the Persian foreign minister.
An Iranian official said US envoy to Iran Rob Malley and national security adviser Jake Sullivan were due to travel to Vienna, but he again ruled out any direct or indirect meeting between officials from the two countries in the Austrian capital. .
According to the state-owned Press TV, citing an unidentified source, Iran will reject a step-by-step withdrawal of sanctions at next week’s meeting. “In accordance with the unchanged advice of the leader [supremo] from Iran [o aiatolá Ali Khamenei], any result based on a gradual lifting of sanctions or indirect negotiations with the United States will be unacceptable, ”the source said, according to Press TV.
According to the New York Times, from a US government official who spoke on condition of anonymity, the US will not seek to retain some of the sanctions for future benefits because of Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign, he said, failed.
Also according to the US government official, once Tehran and the other participants in the pact reached a general consensus, Iran and the United States ideally sat down to finalize the details of the choreography: sanctions lifted by a on the one hand, restrictions on the nuclear program on the other.
As part of the nuclear deal, the United States agreed to withdraw sanctions from Tehran in exchange for mastery of Iran’s nuclear program, making it more difficult for the Persian country to produce nuclear weapons, a ambition he denies having. Iran, however, is only months away from accumulating enough highly enriched uranium to create at least one nuclear weapon.
So time is a factor for Washington, something German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has corroborated. “An agreement that would again be fully respected would be a benefit for the security of the whole region and the best basis for negotiations on other important issues of regional stability,” he said in a statement.
On the Iranian side, the country will hold presidential elections in June, and the government clearly wants to show progress in talks to lift foreign sanctions against the local economy.