Eyes on fifth round of Vienna talks; a possible agreement on corner?

Tehran, May 20, IRNA – Participants to the Iran nuclear deal have been talking to revive the agreement during the last six weeks and though some disagreements remained unsolved, reaching an agreement in the next round of talks seems likely.

Iran, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany, as participants of the JPCOA, has intensified their efforts in recent weeks to revive the deal and reach an agreement so that the United States can rejoin it after removing sanctions against Iran.

Participants had a video conference in early April which led to the decision to begin JCPOA revival talks in the form of Joint Commission of the JCPOA in Vienna.

Since then, four rounds of talks have been held in Vienna and the fifth round is ongoing as there have been indications that this may be the final round after which an agreement might emerge.

The United States ceased its participation to the deal, informally known as the Iran nuclear deal, and reimposed all sanctions against Iran that were removed after the deal went into effect in 2015 and followed it up by slapping new sanction under new labels.

The measure triggered Iran’s response in the form of reducing its compliance to the nuclear deal in five steps in the framework of provisions of the deal.

** First Round; on your marks

The US President Joe Biden has indicated his will to rejoin the JCPOA since presidential race in 2020, but his administration lacked practical action in the early weeks into office.

The United States had no participation in meetings and talks regarding the deal since its withdrawal. But Washington has sent Robert Malley, US President Representative on Iran, to participate in the talks indirectly, as Iran opposed direct talks with the US because of its withdrawal from the deal.

In his statements in interviews, Malley made a remarkable pullback from previous positions taken by Washington regarding the revival of the JCPOA.

While Biden administration insisted that the US would lift sanctions only if Iran returns to full compliance with the nuclear deal and raised issues other than the nuclear issue, Malley made no mention of Iran’s ballistic missiles or regional influence in his interview with PBS which was a clear sign of US withdrawal.

Mally event suggested that the United States was ready to remove sanctions non-consistent with the JCPOA to rejoin the deal.

** Second Round; do not disturb

The next round of talks was held with two parallel sessions in the expertise level to discuss details of US measures to remove sanctions and Iran’s steps to return to full compliance with the deal. The outcomes were reported to the Joint Commission of the JCPOA.

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi who led Iranian delegation during the talks said in the meeting that the first necessary step was on the US to remove sanctions and Iran was ready to reverse its compliance reduction steps as soon as it verifies removal of sanctions.

While the talks were ongoing in Vienna, a sabotage incident happened in one of Iran’s nuclear facility led by the Israeli regime. In response, Iran announced it elevated uranium enrichment level to 60 percent in the framework of the deal itself.

Much to the chagrin of the Israeli regime, the incident couldn’t stop JCPOA reviving talks.

** Third Round; possible mission

The talks were followed by the third round, with participants agreeing on the continuation of expertise groups in two areas, i.e. sanctions and nuclear measures, in a faster pace.

They also agreed to form a third group to discuss practical arrangement required for the removal of US sanctions and its return to the deal.

** Fourth Round; sparks of hope

After several days of delay letting delegations to return to their capitals for consultation for the next round, the talks were following up by entering the drafting phase.

Araghchi described the first session of the fourth round as positive and said that there was agreement on the path of negotiations.

Envoys of other participant states had similar statements, with representatives of Russia and the European Union saying that an agreement was close.

Enrique Mora, deputy of EU foreign policy chief, who chaired the sessions said on Wednesday that he was almost sure that there would be a final agreement.

He also said that essential improvements were made in recent days, but there were also issues to work on as the Join Commission would reconvene next week.

** Fifth Round; final stage?

Despite the improvements, some disagreements seem to hinder a final agreement to be made soon. Axios reported that disagreements were connected to Iran’s nuclear issues.

The report said that Iran’s nuclear program has had great progress compared to 2015 when the JCPOA was signed and that has been a matter of disagreement in the talks, although great improvements have been made regarding US sanction removal.

The US has agreed to remove considerable part of sanctions against Iran, but Tehran deems it insufficient because it says that all sanctions imposed and reimposed by former US President Donald Trump should be lifted.

Now, all eyes are on the fifth round of talks that will be held next week to solve the remaining issues, but it totally depends on how serious are other participants who previous endangered the deal by their evading of their commitments.

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