Negotiations on “relaunching the nuclear deal” between Tehran and world’s nuclear powerhouses began in Vienna, the capital of Austria, on Monday. The talks were interrupted in August, when the new president, Ebrahim Raisi, took power in Iran.
The six rounds of talks so far have been attended by representatives of Iran and delegations from China, France, Germany, Russia, the EU, the UK and indirectly, the US. The latter was not party to those discussions as Iran has refused to hold direct negotiations with Washington, whose delegation is at a nearby hotel.
The 2015 nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, between Tehran and the world powers stipulated that Iran would not enrich uranium to a level higher than 3.67 percent. In exchange, the international economic sanctions imposed on the country were lifted.
The deal was intended to limit Iran’s nuclear program and prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons. However, Tehran says its program does not serve military purposes.
New economic sanctions on Iran were imposed in 2018 by the then US President Donald Trump, withdrawing Washington from the nuclear deal with Iran. The next president, Joe Biden, declared his will to return to the treaty with Iran.
Iran’s top negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani insisted on Monday that the US and its Western allies should offer guarantees to Iran that no new sanctions would be imposed on it in the future.
Speaking to Reuters after the first meeting of the parties remaining to the deal in five months, Ali Bagheri Kani said all the parties in the meeting had agreed that the focus of the talks should be the lifting of sanctions.
Iran has announced that it wants, above all, to have all sanctions lifted in a manner that is “guaranteed and verifiable.”
Before arriving in Austria, US envoy Rob Malley stated the recent actions of the Iranians to be a bad sign. Since the beginning of the year, Iran has raised uranium enrichment levels to unprecedented levels and restricted access to IAEA inspectors.