France urges Iran to be ‘constructive’ at nuclear talks

Tuesday, 06 Apr, 2021

Price said the talks would be structured around working groups the European Union is going to form with the remaining participants in the nuclear agreement, including Iran.

Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal in 2018, and President Joe Biden has said rejoining the agreement is a priority for his administration.

So a deal was struck: In 2015, Iran and six other countries reached a major agreement.

Iran has demanded a complete return to where things stood when the deal was signed in 2015. China, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom signed the original agreement with Iran and the U.S.

Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Akbar Salehi on Thursday said the "deadlock" on who makes the first move has been broken, with talks entering the "technical phase".

Russia's ambassador to global organizations in Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov, tweeted that Friday's session went well and the parties were prepared to talk further. "These are early days".

However, Price said the administration does not anticipate an immediate agreement since tough discussions lie ahead. "It's going to be a hard path because of how much time has gone by and how much mutual distrust there is", U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley said.

"What we are saying today is that we should go back to January 2015 and all the sanctions that the United States has added and changed their labels, should be lifted", he continued.

Iran also said there would be no direct meeting with USA officials in Vienna, the Iranian Foreign Ministry website said after Friday's talks.

Khatibzadeh noted that the lifting of United States sanctions against its oil industry is Iran's primary concern, with oil being the nation's top export.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said that Tehran opposed any gradual easing of sanctions.

Friday's announcement that Washington and Tehran would begin indirect talks through intermediaries was one of the first signs of tangible progress in efforts to return both nations to the terms of the accord, which restricted Iran's nuclear program in return for relief from US and global sanctions. It may seem like semantics, and maybe it is.

Iran has said it will not meet the USA face-to-face until that happens.

That alone will be no easy task.

Iran, which insists it does not want nuclear weapons, refused to do so and responded to the sanctions by rolling back a number of key commitments. Among them are anti-terrorism sanctions on Iran's Central Bank and the terrorism designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a branch of the Iranian military responsible for proxies and domestic repression. He said Iran is "ready to return to our all commitments immediately after the American side lifts sanctions in a complete and verifiable" way.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters that "we obviously welcome this as a positive step".

"We are negotiating a list of nuclear obligations, and a list of sanctions lifting".