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Vienna nuclear talks making progress but solutions still far away

Source: 
The National

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, right, and the head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi inspect the nuclear technology on the occasion of Iran National Nuclear Technology Day in Tehran in 2019. EPA

IR-8 centrifuges at Natanz nuclear power plant, some 300 kilometres south of capital Tehran. AFP

The Iranian nuclear power plant in Bushehr in 2010. EPA

Salehi speaks with media while visiting Natanz enrichment facility, in central Iran in 2019. Atomic Energy Organization of Iran via AP

The gate of Natanz nuclear power plant in Natanz , Isfahan province, in 2019. EPA

Inside of the Iran's Fordow nuclear facility, in Fordow, Qom province in 2019. EPA

Technicians work at the Arak heavy water reactor's secondary circuit, as officials and media visit the site, near Arak, Iran in 2019. Atomic Energy Organization of Iran via AP

Members of the media and officials tour the water nuclear reactor at Arak in 2019. WANA via Reuters

Concrete is poured for the base of the second nuclear power reactor at Bushehr plant in 2019. Atomic Energy Organization of Iran via AP

No end to Iran-US standoff after two weeks of negotiations between world powers

The Iran nuclear talks in Vienna are continuing amid signs of progress in the standoff between Washington and Tehran. Reuters

Talks in Vienna that seek to bring the US back into the 2015 nuclear deal that Iran signed with world powers were on Monday making progress but a long-term solution remained distant, Russian and Iranian officials said.

Optimism was growing of a breakthrough to the deadlock after two weeks of negotiations between Iran and the remaining signatories to the accord – China, France, Germany, Russia and the UK.

A US delegation was also present in Vienna, but has not been dealing directly with Iran.

US President Joe Biden wants to return to the deal, from which his predecessor Donald Trump withdrew before he reimposed heavy sanctions on Iran.

In response, Tehran has repeatedly broken the terms of the agreement in response and said it would only return once the US-imposed financial measures were lifted. Mr Biden’s administration said it would do so when Iran returns to compliance.

Russia’s representative Mikhail Ulyanov said on Monday “we can note with satisfaction that the negotiations entered the drafting stage”.

“Practical solutions are still far away, but we have moved from general words to agreeing on specific steps towards the goal,” he said.

Expert groups are trying to resolve the two key issues, of rolling back the US sanctions and ensuring Iran stops violating the limits set out in the nuclear deal.

Saeed Khatibzadeh, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, said there was “some progress in the talks, but it doesn't mean the resolution of differences”.

“We think the US administration knows better than anyone that Iran's actions are within the framework of the nuclear deal and they will be halted when the US lifts sanctions and we can verify that,” he told IRNA news agency.

Mr Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan also said the Vienna dialogue was constructive.

“What I will say is that the US is not going to lift sanctions unless we have clarity and confidence that Iran will fully return to compliance with its obligations under the deal,” he said.

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