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Iran: Europe not offering viable solutions at Vienna nuclear talks

Tehran’s negotiator Ali Bagheri says UK, France, and Germany ‘failed’ to resolve removal of sanctions; British foreign secretary warns this is Iran’s ‘last chance’

Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani is seen leaving the Coburg Palais, venue of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) meeting aimed at reviving the Iran nuclear deal, in Vienna on December 3, 2021. (JOE KLAMAR / AFP)
Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani is seen leaving the Coburg Palais, venue of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) meeting aimed at reviving the Iran nuclear deal, in Vienna on December 3, 2021. (JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

Iran said Sunday that European countries have failed to offer constructive proposals to help salvage a tattered 2015 nuclear deal, Reuters reported.

“European parties fail to come up with any initiatives to resolve differences over the removal of sanctions [on Iran],” Tehran’s top negotiator, Ali Bagheri Kani, said, according to Iran’s state-run Press TV.

His comments came after the United Kingdom had said there was still time for Tehran to save the deal, known as the JCPOA, but that this was its “last chance.”

“This is the last chance for Iran to come to the negotiating table with a serious resolution to this issue, which has to be agreeing the terms of the JCPOA,” British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said Sunday.

“This is their last chance and it is vital that they do so. We will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon,” Truss added.

Diplomats from Britain, France, and Germany had urged Tehran to come back with “realistic proposals,” after the Iranian delegation made numerous demands two weeks ago that the accord’s other parties deemed unacceptable.

A person walks in front of Palais Coburg where closed-door nuclear talks take place in Vienna, Austria, on December 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Gruber)

Still, Bagheri Kani said on Sunday that good progress had been made that could pave the way for more serious negotiations.

“Our path during the negotiation was successful,” Reuters quoted him as saying on Lebanon’s pro-Iranian Al Mayadeen TV.

Talks in Vienna on Thursday ended an hour after resuming, following a few days’ pause, with tensions high after Tehran made demands that European countries strongly criticized.

The meeting of all the deal’s remaining signatories — Iran, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China — was chaired by EU diplomat Enrique Mora.

The United States has participated indirectly in the ongoing talks because it withdrew from the accord in 2018 under then-US president Donald Trump. US President Joe Biden has said that he wants to rejoin the deal.

Talks that began two weeks ago were the first in over five months, a gap caused by a new hardline government assuming power in Tehran.

The accord sealed in Vienna in 2015 was meant to rein in Iran’s nuclear program in return for loosened economic sanctions.

Following the US decision to withdraw and reimpose sanctions against Iran, Tehran has ramped up its nuclear program again by enriching uranium beyond the thresholds allowed in the agreement. Iran has also restricted monitors from the United Nations atomic watchdog from accessing its nuclear facilities, raising concerns about what the country is doing out of view.

Meanwhile, Israeli and American military leaders are set to discuss possible military drills to practice destroying Iranian nuclear facilities in a potential worst-case scenario, a senior US official said.

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