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Iran, US, EU envoys heading to Vienna as nuclear talks expected to resume

Move aimed at ‘lifting cruel sanctions against our country,’ Tehran says; ‘Our expectations are in check,’ US envoy says; talks have been stalled for 5 months

Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani listens to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during a meeting in Tehran, Iran,  June 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)
Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani listens to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during a meeting in Tehran, Iran, June 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)

Iran said Wednesday it was sending a delegation to Vienna to resume talks to revive the frayed 2015 agreement on its nuclear program that have been halted since March.

“As part of the policy of lifting cruel sanctions against our country, Iran’s negotiating team led by Ali Bagheri, the Islamic Republic’s chief negotiator, will leave for Vienna in a few hours,” foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said in a statement.

“Heading to Vienna to advance the negotiations,” Bagheri tweeted.

“The Onus is on those who breached the deal and have failed to distance from ominous legacy. The US must seize the opportunity offered by the JCPOA partners’ generosity; ball is in their court to show maturity and act responsibly,” Bagheri wrote.

The United States and the European Union’s Iran nuclear envoys soon followed suit, announcing they were traveling to Vienna for talks with Tehran’s delegation as they seek to salvage the agreement on its atomic ambitions.

The US State Department’s point man on negotiations with Iran, Rob Malley, announced his trip to Austria on Twitter.

“Our expectations are in check, but the United States welcomes EU efforts and is prepared for a good faith attempt to reach a deal,” Malley said.

“It will shortly be clear if Iran is prepared for the same,” he added.

In this file photo from May 25, 2022, Robert Malley, Biden’s administration special envoy for Iran, waits to testify about the Iran nuclear deal during a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP)

EU nuclear coordinator Enrique Mora was also due in Vienna “to discuss (getting) JCPOA back to full implementation”, he tweeted, referring to the 2015 deal intended to prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear bomb.

Iran said it was “optimistic” about the talks.

Negotiations in Vienna began in April 2021 to restore the deal, but have stalled for the past five months amid differences between Tehran and Washington on several issues.

The two sides have negotiated indirectly through the European Union coordinator in a bid to bring the US back into the deal and to lift sanctions on Iran, on the basis that Tehran would return to its nuclear commitments.

Qatar hosted indirect talks at the end of June between the United States and Iran in a bid to get the Vienna process back on track, but those discussions broke up after two days without any breakthrough.

Last week, the EU foreign policy chief and coordinator of the nuclear talks between Iran and world powers, Josep Borrell, submitted a new draft text and urged all sides to accept it or “risk a dangerous nuclear crisis.”

Illustrative: European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, right, speaks with Spain’s Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares Bueno during a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels, July 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

Iran expressed “optimism” that the talks would resume after Borrell’s draft compromise was reviewed.

“In this round of talks, which will take place as before with the coordination of the EU, discussions will be held regarding the ideas presented by the parties including those presented this week by Iran to the other party,” Kanani added.

The statement added that Iran hoped “the opposing parties will resolve the situation by taking the necessary decisions and seriously focusing on resolving the remaining issues.”

The Times of Israel staff contributed to this report. 

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