Sun Sentinel Broward Edition

World powers work to get US back into Iran nuke deal

- By David Rising and Alex Schuller

VIENNA — Officials from five world powers began a new effort Tuesday to try to bring the United States back into the foundering 2015 nuclear deal they signed with Iran, a delicate diplomatic dance that needs to balance the concerns and interests of both Washington and Tehran.

The meeting in Vienna of envoys from Russia, China, Germany, France, Britain and Iran came as the U.S. was due to start its own indirect talks with Iran. It would be one of the first signs of tangible progress in efforts to return both nations to the accord, which restricted Iran’s nuclear program in return for relief from U.S. and internatio­nal sanctions.

Following the closed meetings of the signatorie­s to the deal, known as the Joint Comprehens­ive Plan of Action, Russia’s delegate, Mikhail Ulyanov, tweeted that the initial talks were “successful.”

“The restoratio­n of JCPOA will not happen immediatel­y. It will take some time. How long? Nobody knows,” he wrote. “The most important thing after today’s meeting of the Joint Commission is that practical work towards achieving this goal has started.”

In 2018, then-President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. unilateral­ly out of the accord, opting for what he called a maximum-pressure campaign involving restored and additional American sanctions.

Since then, Iran has been steadily violating restrictio­ns in the deal, like the amount of enriched uranium that it can stockpile and the purity to which it can be enriched. Tehran’s moves have been calculated to pressure the other nations in the deal to do more to offset crippling U.S. sanctions reimposed under Trump.

President Joe Biden, who was vice president under President Barack Obama when the original deal was negotiated, has said he wants to bring the U.S. back into the JCPOA but that Iran must reverse its violations.

Iran argues that the U.S. violated the deal first with its withdrawal, so Washington has to lift sanctions first.

Following the meeting in Vienna, Iranian state television quoted Iran’s negotiator, Abbas Araghchi, as reiteratin­g that message during the opening round of talks.

“Lifting U.S. sanctions is the first and the most necessary action for reviving the deal,” Araghchi was quoted as saying. “Iran is fully ready to reverse its activities and return to complete implementa­tion of the deal immediatel­y after it is verified sanctions are lifted.”

At the meeting, participan­ts agreed to establish two expert-level groups, one on the lifting of sanctions and one on nuclear issues, which were “tasked to identify concrete measures to be taken by Washington and Tehran to restore full implementa­tion of JCPOA,” Ulyanov tweeted.

They are to start work immediatel­y, and report their conclusion­s to the main negotiator­s.

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.

In the latest announced violation, Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for Iran’s civilian nuclear program, said officials had begun mechanical testing of an IR-9 prototype centrifuge. That would enrich uranium 50 times faster than the IR-1s allowed under the accord, he said, according to the semi-official ISNA news agency.

The JCPOA Joint Commission was expected to meet again Friday.

 ?? ATOMIC ENERGY ORGANIZATI­ON OF IRAN 2019 ?? Technician­s, officials and media converge at the Arak heavy water reactor’s secondary circuit in a facility in Arak, Iran.
ATOMIC ENERGY ORGANIZATI­ON OF IRAN 2019 Technician­s, officials and media converge at the Arak heavy water reactor’s secondary circuit in a facility in Arak, Iran.

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