Iran nuclear talks to restart Monday: source

VIENNA  – The long-awaited resumption of international talks in Vienna to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal will take place Monday afternoon, a diplomatic source said.

The talks between the remaining partners to the deal — Iran, China, Russia, Germany, France and the UK — will restart at around two pm local time (1300 GMT), the European diplomat told AFP on Sunday.

The US will also send a delegation headed by Washington s Special Envoy for Iran, Rob Malley, which will participate in the talks indirectly.

Russia s ambassador to the UN in Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov had said this week that “informal meetings” between the participants were expected ahead of the formal talks beginning in the Austrian capital s Palais Coburg hotel.

Ulyanov noted that Monday would mark more than five months since the talks were suspended, “a very protracted pause”.

“The talks can t last forever. There is the obvious need to speed up the process,” Ulyanov tweeted on Saturday.

On Saturday Iranian media reported that the country s chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri had arrived in Vienna, days after visiting Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

The 2015 deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, was designed to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear arsenal by imposing strict limits on its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of some sanctions.

But it unravelled in 2018 when then president Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the accord.

A year later Iran began retaliating by rolling back its nuclear-related commitments, for example breaching the limits laid down in the accord on its stockpile of enriched uranium.

Trump s successor Joe Biden has said he wants the US to return to the accord but Washington has accused Iran of dragging its feet and making “radical” demands.

– Israel s FM heads to Europe before Iran nuclear talks –

Israel s foreign minister was headed to Europe on Sunday for discussions with British and French leaders before the expected resumption of international talks to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

With the negotiations set to resume in Vienna, top Israel diplomat Yair Lapid was scheduled to meet Monday with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss in London, and with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Tuesday.

The remaining partners to the deal — Iran, China, Russia, Germany, France and Britain — are due to meet directly, with a US delegation in the Austrian capital to participate indirectly.

Former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu was among the most vocal critics of the 2015 deal, which was designed to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear arsenal by imposing strict limits on its nuclear programme in return for sanctions relief.

His successor Naftali Bennett has also voiced concern about a revival of the accord with Israel s arch foe.

“Israel is very concerned about the willingness to lift sanctions and allow the flow of billions to Iran, in exchange for insufficient restrictions on the nuclear programme,” Bennett said ahead of a cabinet meeting Sunday.

“This is a message that we are conveying in every way, both to the Americans and to the other countries that are negotiating with Iran. The foreign minister will deliver the same message at his meetings in London and Paris this week,” Bennett said.

But the Israeli premier has made clear he will not replicate Netanyahu s approach of publicly chastising key ally Washington as the negotiations play out.

Netanyahu s 2015 speech to a Republican-controlled Congress — without an invitation from then president Barack Obama — to blast the Iran negotiations hurt US-Israeli relations.

Netanyahu cheered when Obama s successor Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the accord in 2018.

A year later, Iran began retaliating by rolling back its nuclear-related commitments, such as breaching the limits laid down in the accord on its stockpile of enriched uranium.

Trump s successor Joe Biden has said he wants the US to return to the deal, but Washington has accused Iran of dragging its feet and making “radical” demands.

(AFP)

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