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People's Daily Online

Lifting sanctions on Iran to be discussed in Vienna next week, U.S. to take part

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 11:46, April 03, 2021

The parties to the Iran nuclear deal will convene in Vienna, Austria next week to discuss the possibility of lifting sanctions on Iran as well as the country's responsibility for further implementing the agreement, said the European Union (EU) on Friday.

Representatives of China, France, Germany, Russia, Britain and Iran, known as the participants in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), met virtually on Friday morning, and "agreed to resume this session of the Joint Commission in Vienna next week, in order to clearly identify sanctions lifting and nuclear implementation measures," the EU said in a statement.

Friday's high-level online meeting was chaired by the Deputy Secretary-General and Political Director of the European External Action Service (EEAS), Enrique Mora, on behalf of EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell.

"Positive meeting today," Mora said on Twitter following the meeting. The parties will reconvene in Vienna next week, with "substantial work ahead for a key opportunity" to bring JCPOA back to life, he added.

The participants recognized the prospect of a full return of the United States to the JCPOA, or Iran nuclear deal and "underlined their readiness to positively address this in a joint effort, said the EEAS statement. They also "emphasized their commitment to preserve the JCPOA and discussed modalities to ensure the return to its full and effective implementation."

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, who attended the virtual session, said that there is no alternative to the JCPOA.

All parties involved should make every effort for the earliest possible return of the Iran nuclear deal to the originally established framework, Ryabkov said.

The participants paid special attention to the measures that should be taken by the United States to eliminate previously committed violations of the JCPOA and to lift its sanctions against Iran, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a press release.

The U.S. confirmed on Friday that it would attend the meeting in Austria next week, saying it remains "open to" direct talks with Tehran.

"We have agreed to participate in talks with our European, Russian, and Chinese partners to identify the issues involved in a mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA with Iran," State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Tehran would be aiming for the "choreographed removal of all sanctions" followed by "Iran ceasing remedial measures."

Zarif was quoted by IRNA news agency as saying that no meeting will be held between Iranian and U.S. representatives, since it is "unnecessary."

The EU said in its statement that the coordinator will "intensify separate contacts in Vienna with all JCPOA participants and the United States."

The development was welcomed by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who said it is good that all the relevant actors will meet to work on fully implementing the nuclear agreement again. "Together with our E3 partners France and Great Britain, we have been working intensively on this goal over the past few weeks."

"We have no time to lose," he said in a statement published by the German foreign ministry. "A fully respected agreement would be a plus in security for the entire region and the best basis for discussions on other important questions of regional stability."

The JCPOA was reached in 2015 between Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council -- the United States, Britain, Russia, France, China, plus Germany) and the EU. Tehran agreed to roll back parts of its nuclear weapons program in exchange for decreased economic sanctions.

Washington under former President Donald Trump withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018 and tightened sanctions on Iran.

The United States and Iran are in a standoff over reviving the nuclear deal. The Joe Biden administration said that if Iran returns to full compliance with the JCPOA, the United States would do the same. But Iran insisted its compliance would only take place once U.S. sanctions were removed.

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