Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. Wikipedia photo.
This article was originally published April 1, 2021, by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
Representatives of Iran and world powers have decided at a virtual meeting on Iran’s nuclear accord to convene in Vienna on April 6, the European Union, which coordinates the nuclear talks, said in a statement.
The statement added that Iran and major powers who signed the accord were ready to welcome the return of the United States to the deal.
The chair of the group — which includes the European Union, China, France, Germany, Russia, Britain, and Iran — said that the participants “emphasized their commitment to preserve the JCPOA and discussed modalities to ensure the return to its full and effective implementation,” according to a statement after their virtual meeting on April 2, referring to the acronym for the accord, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
The statement said participants would meet in the Austrian capital “in order to clearly identify sanctions lifting and nuclear implementation measures, including through convening meetings of the relevant expert groups.”
The statement also said that the group’s coordinator “will also intensify separate contacts in Vienna” with all participants of the nuclear agreement and the United States.
In Tehran, state media quoted deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi as saying that any “return by the U.S. to the nuclear deal does not require any negotiation and the path is quite clear.”
“The U.S. can return to the deal and stop breaching the law in the same way it withdrew from the deal and imposed illegal sanctions on Iran,” Araqchi added.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Twitter that there will be no meeting between Tehran and Washington.
“No Iran-U.S. meeting. Unnecessary,” Zarif wrote.
At virtual JCPOA JC meeting, Iran & EU/E3+2 agreed to resume in-person talks in Vienna next Tues.
Aim: Rapidly finalize sanction-lifting & nuclear measures for choreographed removal of all sanctions, followed by Iran ceasing remedial measures.
No Iran-US meeting. Unnecessary.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) April 2, 2021
Russia’s envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) described the discussions as “businesslike” and said they will continue.
“The impression is that we are on the right track but the way ahead will not be easy and will require intensive efforts. The stakeholders seem to be ready for that,” Mikhail Ulyanov, Moscow’s ambassador to the IAEA, said on Twitter on April 2.
The online meeting was chaired by senior European Union diplomat Enrique Mora on behalf of EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.
The nuclear deal was meant to provide relief for Iran from international sanctions in exchange for limitations on its nuclear program, which Tehran says is strictly for civilian energy purposes.
But the United States unilaterally pulled out of nuclear agreement in 2018 under former President Donald Trump, who reimposed crippling economic sanctions on Tehran.
U.S. President Joe Biden has signaled his readiness to revive the accord, but his administration insists Iran must first return to its nuclear commitments, most of which Tehran has suspended in response to U.S. sanctions.
Iran’s commitments include limits on the amount of enriched uranium it can stockpile and the purity to which it can enrich it.
Iran began restricting International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections of its nuclear facilities in February.
On March 21, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Washington must lift all sanctions if the United States and its allies want to see Iran return to its commitments under the deal.
The announcement of the virtual meeting on April 2 came as a report by the IAEA said that Iran had breached more of its commitments.
The confidential report, obtained by Reuters and dated March 31, said Iran had begun enriching uranium using advanced machines at its underground Natanz plant, in violation of the agreement.
Copyright (c)2021 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.
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