Thursday, 19 May 2022 - 18 of Iyyar, 5782

As nuclear talks resumed in Vienna, Iran focuses on lifting of sanctions

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The Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), convened in Vienna on Monday, It is chaired, on behalf of High Representative Josep Borrell, by the Deputy Secretary General/Political Director of the European External Action Service Enrique Mora. It is attended by representatives of China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and Iran.

Mora insisted that both the lifting of sanctions and Iran’s nuclear restrictions would be discussed.

Iran is focusing on  lifting the sanctions against it as the 8th round of talks between Tehran and the world powers resumed on Monday, reports said. 

The latest round of talks, the first under Iran’s new hardline President Ebrahim Raisi, ended 10 days ago after adding some new Iranian demands to a working tekst, Reuters reported.

Western powers, Russia, China, France, Britain, Germany and the European Union, have said progress was too slow and negotiators had “weeks not months” left before the 2015 deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), becomes meaningless.

Little remains of that deal, which lifted sanctions against Tehran in exchange for restrictions on its atomic activities.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump  withrew his country from the agreement in 2018, re-imposing U.S. sanctions, and Iran later breached many of the deal’s nuclear restrictions and kept pushing well beyond them.

“If we work hard in the days and weeks ahead we should have a positive result. It’s going to be very difficult, it’s going to be very hard. Difficult political decisions have to be taken both in Tehran and in Washington,” said European Union representative, Enrique Mora, who is coordinating the indirect talks between Iran and the US.

“There is a sense of urgency in all delegations that this negotiation has to be finished in a relatively reasonable period of time. Again, I wouldn’t put limits but we are talking about weeks, not about months,” Mora, who is Deputy Secretary General of the European External Service, added.

“The most important issue for us is to reach a point where, firstly, Iranian oil can be sold easily and without hindrance,” Iranian media quoted Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian as saying.

Mora said both the lifting of sanctions and Iran’s nuclear restrictions would be discussed.

Iran insists all U.S. sanctions must be lifted before steps are taken on the nuclear side, while Western negotiators say nuclear and sanctions steps must be balanced.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday that Israel was not opposed to a deal in principle, only one that has “no possibility of genuine oversight on the nuclear program, Iranian money or the Iranian terrorist network.”

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz told the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee last week that Iran’s precarious domestic situation offered an opportunity to pressure the regime in the nuclear negotiations.

“[Iran’s] citizens are suffering as a result of the poor economic situation [in the country], investments and development have been slashed by 50 percent in the last decade, and the country faces a variety of internal and external challenges,” said Gantz.

Despite the hard line taken by the Iranian regime in Vienna, it is coming to the talks “without real bargaining chips,” said Gantz, adding that it is both possible and necessary to put an end to Iran’s “foot-dragging strategy.”

A senior Israel Defence Forces (IDF) official, said that ‘’according to our assessment, Iran is one month from being able to enrich enough uranium for a nuclear bomb, if they decide to.’’

‘’We need to be prepared militarily,’’ he said, noting that the IDF has create a new directorate focusing on Iranian issues, including its ‘’regional malign activities.’’

The official spoke at an online briefing for journalists organized by the European Israel Press Association (EIPA).

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