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Iran nuclear talks restart in Vienna as officials look to remove hurdles

A demand by Tehran that the United States remove the country's powerful Revolutionary Guards from the State Department's official blacklist of “foreign terrorist organisations” has been dropped from the discussions, the official added. It will instead be handled “in the future” — after the deal

Officials from world powers and Iran are meeting in the Austrian capital for the first time since March, when negotiations — which began in 2021 to reintegrate the United States into the agreement — stalled. The ball is in Washington‘s court to save Iran‘s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, Iranian top nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani tweeted ahead of his trip to Vienna. (AA) Negotiators have kicked off a fresh round of talks over Iran's nuclear programme in Vienna, seeking to salvage the agreement on Tehran's atomic ambitions.

Officials from world powers and Iran are meeting in the Austrian capital for the first time since March, when negotiations — which began in 2021 to reintegrate the United States into the agreement — stalled.

A senior EU official said on Thursday progress was being made on some of the remaining obstacles, including guarantees that the United States would not scupper the deal by going back on its word in the future.

“We have now quite substantial guarantees,” the official said. “It's my understanding that Iran is happy and feels satisfied with what is in the text”.

A demand by Tehran that the United States remove the country's powerful Revolutionary Guards from the State Department's official blacklist of “foreign terrorist organisations” has been dropped from the discussions, the official added. It will instead be handled “in the future” — after the deal.

Tehran and Washington still have to agree on “issues related to sanctions lifting and a couple of nuclear questions that did not exist in March as the Iranians advanced their programme”, the official said.

“We are a bit exhausted, I cannot imagine myself here in four weeks,” the EU source said. “This is not another round, we are here to finalise the text.”

US National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters on Thursday there was “a deal on the table” and Iran “ought to take it”.

“You've heard the president say we're not going to wait forever for Iran to take this deal,” Kirby said, adding that “clearly time does appear to be getting very short in terms of being able to get to a deal”.

READ MORE: What are the hurdles in the way of Iran nuclear deal?

US, Iran won't meet face to face

Bilateral talks began earlier on Thursday at Vienna's luxury Palais Coburg hotel under the auspices of the European Union's representative Enrique Mora.

The Iranian and Russian delegations, which have traditionally been close in the negotiations, held a separate meeting.

Delegations from all parties were set to partake in Thursday's talks, but officials from the US and Iran are not expected to meet face to face.

In late June, Qatar hosted indirect talks between Tehran and Washington in the hope of getting the process back on track, but those talks failed to make a breakthrough.

In a last-ditch effort, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell submitted a compromise proposal last month and called on the parties to accept it to avoid a “dangerous nuclear crisis”.

Borrell said the draft text includes “hard-won compromises by all sides” and “addresses, in precise detail, the sanctions lifting as well as the nuclear steps needed to restore” the 2015 pact.

Britain, China, France, Germany, Iran, Russia and the United States signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, in July 2015. 

The JCPOA aims to guarantee the civilian nature of Iran's nuclear programme in exchange for a gradual lifting of sanctions.

But following the unilateral withdrawal of the United States in 2018 under former president Donald Trump and the re-imposition of US sanctions, Tehran has backtracked on its obligations.

READ MORE: US-Israel diverge on tackling Iran’s nuclear programme

Source: AFP