Iran nuclear deal talks to resume on December 27

EU foreign service said the meeting would be attended by representatives of China, France, Germany, Russia, UK and Iran.

Deputy Secretary-General of the European External Action Service (EEAS) Enrique Mora and Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani with delegations wait for the start of a meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission in Vienna, Austria, December 9, 2021 [EU Delegation in Vienna/EEAS/Handout via Reuters]

Negotiations to revive a 2015 nuclear deal signed between Iran and world powers will resume on Monday in Austria’s capital, officials have said.

The announcement came on Thursday amid warnings the landmark agreement would become obsolete within weeks if Iran continued to step up its nuclear activities as it has been doing since 2019, a year after the United States unilaterally withdrew from it and reimposed sanctions against Iran.

“Vienna talks to resume on Monday 27 December. The JCPOA Joint Commission will meet to discuss and define the way ahead,” European Union diplomat Enrique Mora wrote on Twitter, referring to the acronym of the deal’s formal name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

“Important to pick up the pace on key outstanding issues and move forward, working closely with the US. Welcome to the 8th round.”

Negotiations restarted in November after a five-month hiatus to try to restore the deal, which was to offer Iran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programme. The seventh round concluded last week, where some modest gains were reported.

Reports indicated the participants – Iran, China, Russia, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom which took part in the talks, plus the US which is participating indirectly – were close to reaching a new joint draft, incorporating elements from a text reached by the end of the sixth round in June and new proposals, by the administration of President Ebrahim Raisi, presented in the form of two documents earlier this month.

Iran has said it wants all sanctions, imposed as part of the “maximum pressure” campaign by the US, lifted – a position the Western counterparts regard as maximalist.

Iran also wants a period to verify the lifting of sanctions, and guarantees the US will not renege on the accord again – demands that it wishes to present as part of a third text when the initial two are agreed upon.

Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s top envoy to the talks, said on Thursday that while it is not “popular to engage in serious business” during the holiday season, the resumption of talks indicated a consensus to restoring the deal as soon as possible.

The EU’s foreign service said the meeting would be attended by representatives of China, France, Germany, Russia, Britain and Iran.

“Participants will continue the discussions on the prospect of a possible return of the United States to the JCPOA and how to ensure the full and effective implementation of the agreement by all sides,” the External Action Service’s statement said.

US negotiator Rob Malley on Tuesday warned of a “period of escalating crisis” if diplomacy failed to restore the agreement.

Iran maintains its nuclear programme is peaceful and it wants to develop only a civilian nuclear capability, but Western powers say its stockpile of enriched uranium goes well beyond that and could be used to develop a nuclear weapon.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies