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US, EU and Iranian envoys head to Vienna for surprise nuclear talks

Robert Malley

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Negotiators from the United States, the EU and Iran send envoys to Vienna for a surprise summit to revive the defunct 2015 nuclear deal. . The Russian chief negotiator said his country’s representatives are also “ready for constructive talks”.

Iran, the United States and the European Union said on Wednesday they would send representatives to Vienna amid what appears to be a last-ditch effort to revive talks over the tattered 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

It was not immediately clear whether other parties to the historic agreement would attend the surprise summit, nor whether any progress had been made after a months-long standoff and recent fruitless round of indirect talks between Iran and the US in Doha.

The European Union official chairing the talks, Enrique Mora, said negotiations would focus on the most recent draft to restore the agreement, while Tehran said it would send nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani to the Austrian capital.

US Special Representative for Iran Rob Malley wrote on Twitter that he was preparing to travel to Vienna for talks. He warned that US “expectations are under control” ahead of the negotiations.

“The United States welcomes the EU’s efforts and is prepared for a good faith effort to reach an agreement. It will soon be clear whether Iran is prepared for the same,” Malley added.

Russia’s chief representative at the talks, Mikhail Ulyanov, also wrote on Twitter that negotiators from Russia, a key signatory to the nuclear deal, are “ready for constructive talks to finalize the deal.”

The prospects for the deal’s recovery have been dimmed in recent months with key sticking points remaining, including Tehran’s demand that Washington give guarantees it will not withdraw from the pact again and that it lift terrorism sanctions against Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guards .

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The abruptly called meeting in Vienna comes after Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign affairs chief, has repeatedly urged in recent weeks to break the deadlock and salvage the deal. He recently wrote in The Financial Times that “the scope for additional important compromises has been exhausted.”

Former President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the 2015 agreement that lifts most international sanctions against Tehran in exchange for severe restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program. Since then, Iran has greatly expanded its nuclear work and now has enough highly enriched uranium to fuel one nuclear weapon, according to non-proliferation experts.

However, Iran would still have to design a bomb and a delivery system for it, probably a project of months. Iran insists its program is for peaceful purposes, although UN experts and Western intelligence agencies say Iran had an organized military nuclear program until 2003.


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