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Russia has said that Tehran and Washington are on the right track to come back into compliance with the Iran nuclear deal, but progress will not be easy following virtual talks that recently took place.
In a positive sign, both parties agreed to meet formally in person in Vienna on Tuesday.
Based in the Austrian capital, the joint commission's virtual meeting followed a breakthrough earlier in the week in private talks on how Iran and the US could both rejoin the deal on a step-by-step basis.
The commission, comprised of France, the UK, Germany, China, the EU, and Russia, is responsible for monitoring the deal's implementation—known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The virtual meeting was attended by the member's states' deputy foreign ministers and political directors.
Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia's ambassador in Vienna, said that “the impression is that we are on the right track, but the way ahead will not be easy and will require intensive efforts,” he said. “The stakeholders seem to be ready for that.”
Ulyanov said before the meeting that the most prudent option would be “to agree on initial and significant steps in order to create a much more favorable climate to go fast to the destination point with full implementation of the JCPOA by all sides.”
He clarified that there had been significant changes in the U.S. position despite Donald Trump unilaterally pulling the U.S. out of the deal in 2018 and increasing economic sanctions on Iran in trying to force Tehran to renegotiate the agreement Washington signed in 2015.
The Iran Nuclear Deal is a textbook example of why the United States can't be trusted to engage in meaningful and lasting diplomacy. The US violated the JCPOA by leaving & reimposing sanctions, and so the US must reverse this. Iran will not re-negotiate a negotiated deal. Period.
Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Seyed Abbas Araghchi, repeated Tehran’s position after the meeting, saying that as soon as the U.S. lifted sanctions, Iran would stop reducing its commitments to the deal.
“No talks are required for the US to return to the JCPOA…the path for the US is quite clear,” he said
Another avenue could be for the U.S. to lift its veto on the International Monetary Fund lending to Iran, about which the governor of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI), Abdolnaser Hemmati, said: “We expect the International Monetary Fund to respond to Iran’s legal request as soon as possible, without discrimination or intrusion or pressure from the United States.”
Another option could be for Washington to allow banks in South Korea and elsewhere to release as much as $7bn (£5bn) in Iranian funds frozen by US sanctions.
Many observers had expected the U.S. might move more quickly to lift sanctions to help the struggling reformist movement in Iran’s upcoming presidential elections in June. Still, for numerous reasons, the Biden administration has chosen a slower, more measured pace.