Gulf Today

EU and Russia say progress made in Iran nuclear talks

It appears that a new agreement is taking shape and there is now a common final goal among all, says Iranian official; Iran names suspect in Natanz atack, says he fled country

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Talks on Iran’s nuclear programme aimed at salvaging a 2015 deal made “progress” on Saturday, a day ater Tehran said it had started producing uranium at 60 per cent purity.

The Islamic republic had warned it would sharply ramp up its enrichment of uranium earlier this week, ater an atack on its Natanz nuclear facility.

That cast a shadow over the talks in Vienna aimed at rescuing a nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers that former US president Donald Trump abandoned almost three years ago.

European Union envoy Enrique Mora said on Saturday that “progress has been made in a far from easy task. We need now more detailed work.”

Russian ambassador to Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov added that “participan­ts took note with satisfacti­on of the progress made so far and expressed determinat­ion to continue negotiatio­ns with a view to complete the process successful­ly as soon as possible.”

The discussion­s involved EU officials and representa­tives from Britain, China, France,

Germany, Russia and Iran. The talks are aimed at determinin­g which sanctions the United States should lit and the measures Iran has to take in order to rein in Tehran’s nuclear programme.

Iran delegation head Abbas Araghchi remarked on Telegram that “a good discussion took place within the joint commission.”

“It appears that a new agreement is taking shape and there is now a common final goal among all,” he added.

Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organisati­on of Iran, confirmed Iran was now producing uranium enriched to 60 per cent purity, taking the country closer to the 90-per cent level required for use in a nuclear weapon.

“The enrichment of uranium to 60 per cent is underway” in Natanz, he was quoted by Tasnim news agency as saying.

Iran has repeatedly insisted it is not seeking atomic weapons, but it has gradually rolled back its nuclear commitment­s since 2019, the year ater Washington withdrew from the accord and began imposing sanctions.

The 2015 deal, known formally as the Joint

Comprehens­ive Plan of Action (JCPOA), gave Iran relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear programme.

Iran had commited to keep enrichment to 3.67 per cent, a level it raised to 20 per cent in January.

Negotiatio­ns aimed at ensuring the return of the United States to the JCPOA and the liting of sanctions resumed this week.

“We think that negotiatio­ns have reached a stage that the parties can start working on a joint text. The writing of the text can start, at least in the fields with a consensus,” Araghchi said.

Meanwhile, Iran named a suspect in the atack on its Natanz nuclear facility that damaged centrifuge­s there, saying he had fled the country “hours before” the sabotage happened.

While the extent of the damage from the April 11 sabotage remains unclear, it comes as Iran tries to negotiate with world powers over allowing the US to re-enter its tatered nuclear deal with world powers and lit the economic sanctions it faces.

The sabotage and Iran’s response to it also have further inflamed tensions across the Mideast, where a shadow war between Tehran and Israel still rages.

State television named the suspect as 43-yearold Reza Karimi. It showed a passport-style photograph of a man it identified as Karimi, saying he was born in the nearby city of Kashan, Iran.

The report also aired what appeared to be an Interpol “red notice” seeking his arrest. The arrest notice was not immediatel­y accessible on Interpol’s public-facing database. Interpol, based in Lyon, France, did not immediatel­y respond to a request for comment.

The TV report said “necessary actions” are underway to bring Karimi back to Iran through legal channels, without elaboratin­g.

The report did not elaborate how Karimi would have goten access to one of the most secure facilities in the country

There was a “limited explosion of a small part of the electricit­y-feeding path to the centrifuge­s’ hall,” the TV report said.

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Delegates wait for the start of a meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission in Vienna on Saturday.
Reuters ↑ Delegates wait for the start of a meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission in Vienna on Saturday.

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