Iran Blames US Stubbornness on Sanctions for Breakdown of Vienna Nuke Talks
Washington diplomats on Friday stormed out of talks on re-admitting the US to the JCPOA nuclear deal with Iran, claiming the Tehran delegation's insistence on a return to its original terms was not "serious" and accusing it of "walking back" concessions made by its previous president.
Iran has blamed Washington's refusal to lift sanctions for Friday's breakdown in the latest round of talks regarding a return to the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal in Vienna.
A senior Iranian Foreign Ministry official, speaking anonymously to the Tasnim News Agency on Sunday, said the problem lay in the US delegation's insistence that it would maintain some sanctions even if Tehran limits its uranium enrichment.
"It has now become clear that the US reluctance to fully abandon the sanctions is the major challenge to progress in the talks," the official said.
US negotiators walked out of the fifth day of talks on Friday, claiming Iran "does not seem to be serious about doing what's necessary to return to compliance" - although the US is the only original signatory to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) currently outside the agreement.
Diplomatic representatives of Washington later complained that the recently-elected Iranian government of conservative President Ebrahim Raisi had "walked back" concessions made by his liberal predecessor, Hassan Rouhani, demanding the US lift all sanctions and return to the 2015 deal it unilaterally abandoned - without adding further demands for limitations on Iran's ballistic missile programme.
"We believe that whenever the US government ditches the maximum pressure campaign and the European parties show the necessary political will in the negotiations, the road to the immediate achievement of a deal will be opened," the official added.
The official was referring to former US President Donald Trump's speedy and unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA, as well as his administration's re-imposition of sanctions previously lifted under the deal and the imposition of new ones.
Iran, observing the terms of the JCPOA text, waited a year before increasing the level of uranium enrichment at its Natanz facility.
Iranian chief negotiator Baqeri Kani told Al-Jazeera on Friday that Tehran's proposals were reasonable and the West must take them seriously.
"Iran's proposals to the world powers cannot be rejected. They are based on the provisions of the 2015 agreement," Kani said. "What we have presented is the malfunctions and the blunders which were in the text of the [JCPOA] draft and we presented some modifications."
The deal was negotiated between Trump's predecessor, former two-term US President Barack Obama, the UK, France, Germany, Russia, China and the European Union (EU). Obama reneged on parts of the JCPOA, however, imposing new sanctions on Iran over its testing of ballistic missiles with conventional warheads - an issue not proscribed under the agreement.
US President Joe Biden pledged to return to the JCPOA during his 2020 election campaign and has, since taking office, maintained the sanctions imposed by Trump.
Mikhail Ulyanov, Russian representative to the International Atomic Energy Authority in Vienna, said on Saturday that the Vienna talks would resume next week.
The Iranian official said his country's delegation expected the other powers to return on Monday with "accurate and logical written responses" and "new practical ideas".
"The other side needs to both adopt an interactive approach and have the necessary flexibility," the diplomat stressed.
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