Talks near accord to reinstate Iran nuclear pact, EU envoy says

Vienna, Jun 2 (EFE).- The European Union envoy coordinating multilateral talks in Vienna on reactivating the 2015 pact regulating Iran’s nuclear program said here Wednesday that he was hopeful of an agreement by the end of the next round, tentatively set to get under away on June 10.

“I am sure that the next round will be the one in which we will finally get a deal,” Spanish diplomat Enrique Mora at the conclusion of the fifth round of discussions.

“There are a few political issues (and) there are a number of technical issues, again rather complex,” the EU representative said. “But I can say that they are fewer than they were one week ago. So we are (on) a good track.”

In 2015, Iran reached agreement with the United States, China, Russia, France, the United Kingdom and Germany on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which called for Tehran to limit uranium enrichment to 3.67 percent – the minimum needed for a nuclear weapon is 90 percent – in return for a lifting of sanctions.

Three years later, then-US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA and embarked on a “maximum pressure” campaign of escalating sanctions against Iran.

The other signatories to the 2015 pact sought to preserve the JCPOA, but Washington’s threats of imposing secondary sanctions on entities doing business with Iran crippled those efforts.

A year after the US pulled out, Iran began enriching uranium to 20 percent, citing a provision of the JCPOA that allows Tehran to depart from some of the conditions in the event of non-compliance by other parties.

Iran announced in mid-April that it was boosting uranium enrichment levels to 60 percent in response to a sabotage attack on the Natanz nuclear plant.

Tehran has also sought to increase pressure on the other JCPOA signatories by enacting laws that would limit access to Iranian nuclear installations for inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

In a report issued earlier this week, the Vienna-based IAEA said that Iran was no longer cooperating fully with the agency’s efforts to resolve doubts about the nature of Tehran’s nuclear program.

Joe Biden, who succeeded Trump as president in January, said during the 2020 election campaign that he would return the US to the JCPOA.

After taking office, the Biden administration demanded that Iran resume full compliance before Washington rejoined the pact. Tehran countered by insisting that the US make the first move by lifting sanctions.

The other JCPOA signatories organized the talks in Vienna with the aim of resolving the impasse between the US and Iran, whose outgoing president, Hassan Rouhani, voiced optimism Wednesday about the process.

“Our primary issues with (the US) in Vienna have been resolved, and there are a few remaining issues and we will negotiate until those matters reach a conclusion,” Rouhani said with less than two weeks to go before the election to choose his successor.

UK, French and German diplomats involved in the talks sounded a note of caution.

“We have continued to make progress and important parts of a future deal have now been fleshed out, but the most difficult decisions lie ahead,” the E3 group said in a statement. “We have of course worked based on the principle of nothing is agreed to (until) all is agreed.” EFE jk-agg/dr

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