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World powers to kick off 5th round of Iran nuclear talks in Vienna

World powers are set to open a fifth round of talks with Iran aimed at bringing the United States back into the landmark 2015 nuclear deal meant to prevent the Islamic Republic from obtaining an atomic bomb.

The talks in Vienna come the day after the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, was able to strike a last-minute agreement with Tehran to extend a deal on surveillance cameras at Iran’s nuclear sites for one month. The issue wasn’t directly related to the ongoing nuclear deal talks — known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA — but had Iran not agreed, it could have seriously complicated the discussions.

The US is not directly involved in the talks, although an American delegation headed by President Joe Biden’s special envoy for Iran, Rob Malley, has also been in the Austrian capital. Representatives from the other powers involved — Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China — have been shuttling between the US and the Iranians to facilitate indirect talks.

Deputy Secretary General and Political Director of the European External Action Service Enrique Mora addresses the media as he leaves the Grand Hotel Wien where closed-door nuclear talks with Iran took place in Vienna, Austria, May 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Lisa Leutner)

As he heads back to Vienna for the resumption of talks, Malley tweets that the latest round had been “constructive and saw meaningful progress.”

“But much work still needs to be done,” he writes. “On our way to Vienna for a fifth round where we hope we can further advance toward a mutual return to compliance.”

Russia’s delegate, Mikhail Ulyanov, who has consistently been the most optimistic about the possibility of an agreement, suggests a resolution was in sight.

“I think it can be final,” he tweets about the fifth round. “But in order to be on the safe side I would prefer to say: let’s see.”

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