San Francisco Chronicle - (Sunday)

Progress reported in talks over reviving nuclear pact

- By Philipp Jenne and Kirsten Grieshaber Philipp Jenne and Kirsten Grieshaber are Associated Press writers.

VIENNA — Senior diplomats from China, Germany, France, Russia and Britain made progress at talks Saturday focused on bringing the United States back into their landmark nuclear deal with Iran, but said more work and time are needed to bring about a future agreement.

After the meeting, Russia’s top representa­tive, Mikhail Ulyanov, tweeted that members of the Joint Comprehens­ive Plan of Action “noted today the indisputab­le progress made at the Vienna talks on restoratio­n of the nuclear deal.”

“The Joint Commission will reconvene at the end of the next week,” Ulyanov wrote. “In the meantime, experts will continue to draft elements of future agreement.”

The U.S. did not have a representa­tive at the table when the diplomats met in Vienna because former President Donald Trump unilateral­ly pulled the country out of the deal in 2018. Trump also restored and augmented sanctions to try to force

Iran into renegotiat­ing the pact with more concession­s.

President Biden wants to rejoin the deal, however, and a U.S. delegation in Vienna was taking part in indirect talks with Iran, with diplomats from the other world powers acting as intermedia­ries.

The Biden administra­tion is considerin­g a rollback of some of the most stringent Trumpera sanctions in a bid to get Iran to come back into compliance with the nuclear agreement, according to informatio­n from current and former U.S. officials.

Ahead of the main talks, Ulyanov said the group’s members met on the sidelines with officials from the U.S. delegation but that the Iranian delegation was not ready to meet with U.S. diplomats.

The nuclear deal promised Iran economic incentives in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program. The reimpositi­on of U.S. sanctions has left the Islamic Republic’s economy reeling. Tehran has responded by steadily increasing its violations of the deal, such as increasing the purity of uranium it enriches and its stockpiles, in a thusfar unsuccessf­ul effort to pressure the other countries to provide sanctions relief.

The ultimate goal of the deal is to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb, something it insists it doesn’t want to do. Iran now has enough enriched uranium to make a bomb, but nowhere near the amount it had before the nuclear deal was signed.

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