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Nuclear talks in Vienna pending: US, Iran create threatening backdrop

Nuclear talks are pending in Vienna
The United States and Iran are creating a threatening backdrop

Five months after the final talks, top diplomats are meeting in Vienna to mediate between representatives of Tehran and Washington. Their goal: to preserve the Iranian nuclear deal. However, it must be very difficult. The fronts are rough.

With much of the skepticism and tension, the ambassadors are engaged in a new attempt to secure the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. The talks, which began in the afternoon in Vienna, had previously been suspended for five months, while incumbent President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran handed over his office to radical conservative Ibrahim Raisi. During this time, the Islamic Republic pushed forward its nuclear program, which, contrary to what was admitted, put pressure on international nuclear analysts. Withdrawing these measures in exchange for lifting US sanctions does not appear to be achievable in the circumstances.

If Tehran continues to delay a settlement, there will be repercussions from Washington, US chief negotiator Robert Malli threatened shortly before the new talks in Vienna. “If they do not return to the deal, we will see clearly other ways to deal with Iran’s nuclear aspirations – diplomatically and at another level,” Malle told the American Broadcasting NPR. On the other hand, Iranian chief negotiator Ali Bakri accused his Western counterparts of being dishonest before the meeting. “In our experience, Western nations do not want to implement the agreement,” he wrote in a comment to the London Financial Times.

Five months after the last round of talks, top ambassadors from Germany, France, Great Britain, Russia and China are returning to the Austrian capital to mediate between representatives from Tehran and Washington. The aim is to secure an agreement that restricts Iran’s nuclear program to prevent the development of nuclear weapons. In response, Western sanctions were lifted.

But in 2018, under then-President Donald Trump, the United States pulled out of the deal and renewed sanctions that severely damaged the Iranian economy. Tehran expanded its nuclear facilities, almost produced weapons-grade uranium and controlled international exploration. We are now looking for ways to reduce the expansion steps on both sides. “These talks should not last forever. There is an urgent need to expedite the process,” Russian negotiator Mikhail Ulyanov wrote on Twitter. He met with Chinese and Iranian representatives on Sunday for informal preliminary talks.

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