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Iran, West Trade Blame For Lack Of Progress In Nuclear Talks

By RFE/RL's Radio Farda December 14, 2021

Iran has accused Western parties to its 2015 nuclear deal of "persisting in their blame game," after European diplomats involved in ongoing negotiations aimed at reviving the agreement said Tehran was putting forward new proposals that are "inconsistent" with the accord.

During a visit to Indonesia on December 14, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States was preparing "alternatives" with allies in case the talks in Vienna on reviving the deal to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions failed.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), under which Iran curtailed its nuclear activities in exchange for a lifting of global sanctions, began unraveling in 2018 when former U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of the deal and reimposed sanctions, prompting Tehran to exceed limits imposed under the pact.

The talks between Iran and the remaining parties to the agreement -- Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia -- were resumed in Vienna on November 29 after a five-month hiatus, with the United States participating indirectly.

No apparent progress has been made in the talks, with diplomats from France, Britain, and Germany -- known as the E3 -- saying in a joint statement on December 13, "We are losing precious time dealing with new Iranian positions inconsistent with the JCPOA or that go beyond it."

"Without swift progress, in light of Iran's fast-forwarding of its nuclear program, the JCPOA will very soon become an empty shell," they warned.

Iran's chief negotiator at the talks, Ali Bagheri, responded to the statement on December 14, saying on Twitter, "Some actors persist in their blame game habit, instead of real diplomacy."

Iran "proposed our ideas early, and worked constructively and flexibly to narrow gaps," Bagheri wrote, adding that "diplomacy is a two-way street."

President Joe Biden says the United States is ready to rejoin the JCPOA provided Iran resumes observing the deal's conditions. Among other things, Iran is demanding the lifting of all U.S. sanctions and guarantees that Washington will not withdraw from any future agreement.

U.S. officials say they won't allow Iran to draw out negotiations while continuing to advance its nuclear program, warning that Washington will pursue other options if diplomacy fails.

"We continue in this hour, on this day, to pursue diplomacy because it remains at this moment the best option, but we are actively engaging with allies and partners on alternatives," Blinken said on December 14.

The top U.S. diplomat referred to the E3 statement, which he said noted that "time is running out, that Iran is still not engaged in real negotiations."

There has been growing Western concerns over Iran's nuclear advances in its uranium enrichment program, which is a possible pathway to a nuclear bomb.

Iranian officials have maintained the country's nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

The United Nations' nuclear watchdog has repeatedly said it has no indication that Iran currently has a secret nuclear-weapons program.

But the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is asking Tehran to allow access to a centrifuge-parts-production site near Karaj, which it said would restore its ability to fully monitor Iran's nuclear program.

Tehran refuses to allow the IAEA access, with the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Mohammad Eslami, saying on December 14 that the agency's demands were beyond safeguards and unacceptable to Tehran.

"Karaj...is outside of safeguards.... We act within the framework of safeguards and NPT (Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty) and do not accept anything else," Eslami said, according to the semiofficial news agency ISNA.

With reporting by Reuters and AFP`

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/iran-nuclear -vienna-e3/31607497.html

Copyright (c) 2021. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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