Iranian Envoy Says Time Has Come To Draft Nuclear Agreement
Abbas Araghchi, who leads Iran’s delegation in nuclear talks with world powers in Vienna, said Saturday that with progress made, the time had arrived “for drafting the text of an agreement, or at least the parts over which there is agreement.”
“A new understanding is taking shape and all parties share a final goal, and the path that needs to be followed is a path that now has become more recognizable,” Araghchi said, according to the official news agency IRNA.
Araghchi, a deputy foreign minister, reiterated Iran’s position that the negotiations should not be dragged out and become “attritional,” while accepting different arguments should be tabled as talks continued. He said Tehran had “prepared its texts both on nuclear steps to be taken by Tehran and Washington and on lifting US sanctions” and had “submitted them to the negotiating parties.” He expressed hope that these texts would be the grounds for agreement.
Vienna talks have been in their second week, with formal meetings of the remaining signatories of the 2015 deal – China, France, Germany, Iran, Russia, and the United Kingdom – and indirect participation of a United States delegation in a nearby hotel. Two expert groups are assessing what measures the US would need to lift, and what steps it is nuclear program Iran should reverse, in order to revive the agreement, the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), which President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018 before imposing stringent sanctions.
China’s representative at the talks also spoke of progress. Wang Qun, Beijing’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, told reporters that participants had agreed to accelerate work “by engaging (in) more extensive, substantive work on sanctions-lifting as well as other relevant issues.”
Wang, the only envoy who is regularly speaking to journalists, spoke of "productive and constructive work" in the days since talks resumed. He said he hoped that the Joint Commission – the formal body including representatives of JCPOA signatories but not directly the US – would “in the next few days… immediately start negotiating the specific formula of sanction-lifting.”
Enrique Mora, deputy general-secretary of the European External Action Service and chair of the formal talks, wrote Saturday that “more detailed work” was needed. There has been speculation that the US was considering an interim offer to Iran, with limited sanctions relief, while Tehran has stressed it will not reverse steps taken in its nuclear program until the US lifts all sanctions. Iran has rejected any ‘step by step’ plan and insisting Washington lift all Trump’s “imposed, re-imposed and re-labelled” sanctions.
While President Joe Biden came into office pledged to return to the JCPOA, his officials have insisted that Iran first reverse all the steps it has taken since 2019 in its nuclear program that go beyond JCPOA limits. Tehran this week said it began enriching uranium to 60 percent, far above the JCPOA cap of 3.67 percent, in response to sabotage at its Natanz facility widely attributed to Israel, whose government opposes the JCPOA.