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Iranian nuclear: resumption of talks to break the impasse – 08/04/2022 at 16:28


Chief Iranian negotiator Ali Bagheri leaves Coburg Palace after Iran nuclear talks on August 4, 2022 in Vienna (AFP/Alex HALADA)

New episode in the endless Iranian nuclear saga: talks resumed Thursday in Vienna, after months of deadlock, to try to relaunch the process and stop Tehran’s technological escalation.

It is the first time since March that all parties (Iran, Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom and Germany) meet in the Austrian capital in order to save the moribund agreement of 2015, supposed to prevent the Islamic Republic to acquire atomic weapons.

The United States participates indirectly in these negotiations, which began in April 2021, with the European Union playing the intermediary.

This session “could make it possible to rectify the situation and restore the momentum necessary to cross the finish line”, estimates for AFP Ellie Geranmayeh, analyst at the European Council for International Relations (ECFR).

If she considers “unlikely” a rapid resolution of the disputes, she considers possible “a breakthrough” which would put an end to the current negative spiral.

– “Measured expectations” –

On this first day, the bilateral meetings followed one another at the Palais Cobourg, a luxury hotel where the talks are taking place under the aegis of the European Union coordinator Enrique Mora.

In the morning, he received the Russian ambassador Mikhail Oulianov, then the Chinese representative Wang Qun and finally the Iranian chief negotiator Ali Bagheri.

European Union coordinator for the Iranian nuclear talks, Enrique Mora (c), arrives at Coburg Palace on August 2022 in Vienna (AFP/Alex HALADA)

European Union coordinator for the Iranian nuclear talks, Enrique Mora (c), arrives at Coburg Palace on August 2022 in Vienna (AFP/Alex HALADA)

The latter called on the United States on Wednesday to “seize this opportunity (…) to act responsibly”.

A separate meeting also took place between Iranians and Russians, traditionally close in discussions.

The EU has given no indication of the duration of this round and no press statement is expected at this time.

Washington’s envoy, Robert Malley, is expected in Vienna during the day.

In a message announcing his trip, he immediately tempered the enthusiasm. “Our expectations are measured but the United States (…) is ready in good faith to try to find an agreement,” he wrote on Twitter. “We will soon be fixed on whether Iran is ready for the same thing,” he wrote.

Along the same lines, a European diplomat based in Vienna was cautious. “It’s positive, but at the same time there is absolutely nothing guaranteed,” he warned.

– Three obstacles –

After the failure of talks in Qatar at the end of June between Americans and Iranians, the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, submitted a draft compromise on July 26 and called on the parties to accept it to avoid a “dangerous crisis”. .

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian (l) meets with European Union Representative Josep Borell (f) at the Foreign Ministry in Tehran on June 25, 2022 (AFP/ATTA KENARE)

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian (l) meets with European Union Representative Josep Borell (f) at the Foreign Ministry in Tehran on June 25, 2022 (AFP/ATTA KENARE)

Iran has also put “ideas” on the table and hopes to discuss them “in this round of talks,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said on Wednesday.

Both Tehran and Washington have an interest in keeping the diplomatic channel alive for lack of “better options”, the experts note.

“Faced with the range of domestic and international challenges, the United States above all does not want a nuclear crisis with Iran likely to degenerate into a broader regional conflict”, underlines Suzanne DiMaggio, researcher at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. .

The Islamic Republic, for its part, still aspires to the lifting of the sanctions which are suffocating its economy.

Among the remaining obstacles is the lifting of measures against economic entities linked to the Revolutionary Guards, the ideological army of the Islamic Republic.

Tehran is also calling for guarantees in the event that Joe Biden’s successor goes back on his word, and finally the closure of an investigation by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear policeman.

Sheet on the technique of uranium enrichment by centrifuge ( AFP / )

Sheet on the technique of uranium enrichment by centrifuge ( AFP / )

The pact known by its English acronym JCPOA aims to guarantee the civilian nature of Iran’s nuclear program, accused of seeking to acquire atomic weapons despite its denials.

But following the unilateral withdrawal of the United States in 2018 at the instigation of Donald Trump and the reinstatement of American sanctions, Tehran has gradually freed itself from its obligations.

Iran thus exceeded the uranium enrichment rate of 3.67% set by the JCPOA, rising to 20% at the start of 2021. Then it crossed the unprecedented threshold of 60%, approaching the 90% necessary for the making a bomb.

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