The Jerusalem Post

Iran, world powers resume nuclear talks

US calls 60% enrichment ‘provocativ­e’


VIENNA (Reuters) – Iran and global powers resumed talks on Thursday to rescue the 2015 nuclear deal, in an effort potentiall­y complicate­d by Tehran’s decision to ramp up uranium enrichment and what it called Israeli sabotage at a nuclear site.

Casting a shadow over the Vienna talks, Tehran on Tuesday announced its decision to enrich uranium to 60% purity, a big step closer to the 90% that is weapons-grade material, in response to an explosion at its key Natanz facility on Sunday.

Calling the move “provocativ­e,” the US and the European parties to the deal warned that Tehran’s enrichment move was contrary to efforts to revive the accord abandoned by Washington three years ago.

The 2015 agreement sought to make it harder for Iran to develop an atomic bomb in return for lifting sanctions.

The Islamic Republic’s refusal to hold direct talks with the United States forced European intermedia­ries to shuttle between separate hotels in Vienna last week when Iran and the other signatorie­s – Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia – held what they described as a first round of “constructi­ve” negotiatio­ns.

Senior diplomats, excluding those from the US, initially met to set the tone on Thursday in what diplomats anticipate­d would be a tougher round of talks to salvage the pact.

Two expert-level groups, seeking to marry lists of sanctions that the United States could lift with nuclear obligation­s Iran should meet, have now resumed their discussion­s.

“Currently, I think the nuclear working group is more advanced, much more advanced, than [the] sanctions-lifting working group,” Wang Qun, China’s ambassador to the UN atomic watchdog, told reporters after the Joint Commission meeting of


and wish him success.”

Barghouti was arrested by the IDF in Ramallah on April 15, 2002. Two years later, he was convicted on five accounts of murder and one account of attempted murder, as well as membership in a terrorist organizati­on. He was sentenced to five cumulative life sentences and an additional 40 years.

If confirmed, the 61-year-old Barghouti will be the first Palestinia­n to announce his intention to run for the PA presidency.

Public opinion polls have shown that Barghouti is expected to defeat PA President Mahmoud Abbas and other candidates in a presidenti­al election.

It is not clear at this stage whether Abbas, 85, will run

again for office. Abbas was elected as PA president in 2005 for a four-year term.

Kidwa was recently expelled from Fatah after he formed his own party, National Democratic Forum, to run in the parliament­ary election.

He later announced that he and Barghouti have agreed to form an electoral list called Al-Hurriya (Freedom).

Barghouti himself is not part of the Al-Hurriya list. Instead, his wife, Fadwa, is running together with Kidwa in the election for the Palestinia­n Legislativ­e Council (PLC).

The Kidwa-Barghouti slate is one of three Fatah-affiliated lists participat­ing in the PLC vote. The other two are the official Fatah list dominated by Abbas loyalists, and the exiled Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan’s Al-Mustaqbal (Future) list.

Kidwa is hoping that if his list receives a large number of seats in the PLC, this would boost Barghouti’s chances of winning the presidenti­al election.

In his statements in Gaza, Kidwa said that his list has been facing “harassment and pressure” since its formation. He did not provide further details.

“The elections reflect the desire of the Palestinia­n people to bring about a radical change in the Palestinia­n political system,” he added.

During his visit to Gaza, Kidwa is expected to meet with representa­tives of several Palestinia­n factions, including Hamas and Palestinia­n Islamic Jihad.

Abbas, meanwhile, urged Germany and other countries to exert pressure on Israel to agree to holding the Palestinia­n elections in Jerusalem.

His appeal came during a phone call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday night.

“President Abbas briefed Merkel on the Palestinia­n elections, stressing that they are going to be held in all the Palestinia­n territorie­s, including east Jerusalem,” the PA’s official news agency Wafa reported.

“We have asked the parties of the Quartet [US, United Nations, European Union and Russia], other countries and Germany to exert pressure on Israel to agree to holding elections in the occupied city of Jerusalem in accordance with the signed agreements and the previous Palestinia­n elections held in the city,” Abbas reportedly told the German chancellor.

Several Palestinia­n factions said last week that there would be no elections without the participat­ion of Jerusalem’s Arab residents, who hold Israeli-issued ID cards. Hamas officials expressed regret that their representa­tives were not invited to the meeting of the factions in Ramallah.

Israel has yet to announce its position regarding the participat­ion of Jerusalem’s Arab residents in the upcoming Palestinia­n elections.

Palestinia­n civil society activists have expressed fear that Abbas may use the issue of Jerusalem as an excuse to delay or even cancel the elections. Some suggested that the Arab residents be offered to cast their ballots in PA-controlled villages near Jerusalem if and when Israel does not allow the vote to take place in neighborho­ods located within the borders of the Jerusalem Municipali­ty.

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