World Insights: JCPOA restoration in limbo on verge of new round of Vienna talks

Source: Xinhua| 2021-07-08 23:00:35|Editor: huaxia

Photo taken on June 20, 2021 shows a meeting of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) Joint Commission in Vienna, Austria. (EU Delegation Vienna/Handout via Xinhua)

Although demonstrating good progress in the first phases, on the verge of the seventh round, the Vienna talks on the revival of the agreement have paused with no clear prospect of resumption, putting the restoration of the agreement in limbo.

TEHRAN, July 8 (Xinhua) -- Since early April, representatives from China, France, Germany, Russia, Britain and Iran have held six rounds of negotiations in the Austrian capital, aiming to bring the United States back to the Iran nuclear deal and prepare the ground for its full implementation. The deal, commonly known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was signed in July 2015.

Although demonstrating good progress in the first phases, on the verge of the seventh round, the Vienna talks on the revival of the agreement have paused with no clear prospect of resumption, putting the restoration of the agreement in limbo.


In May 2018, former U.S. President Donald Trump pulled his country out of the JCPOA and reimposed sanctions against Tehran, in a bid to bring the Islamic republic to the negotiating table and hammer out a new deal. Meanwhile, current U.S. President Joe Biden's inauguration earlier this year, along with his willingness to revive the JCPOA, have rekindled hopes of restoring the deal in its original format, which has led to the Vienna talks.

In late June, Ebrahim Raisi was announced the winner of Iran's presidential election. He is expected to succeed President Hassan Rouhani in early August, who has served two consecutive terms in office since 2013.

Iran's President-elect Ebrahim Raisi attends his first press conference after winning the election in Tehran June 21, 2021. (Photo by Ahmad Halabisaz/Xinhua)

Iran's position on the nuclear deal and the removal of sanctions will not change with the shift of the Iranian government, Saeed Khatibzadeh, spokesman for Iran's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said on Tuesday.

"The government of (President-elect Ebrahim) Raisi will also be committed to it (a potential agreement) ... Because adherence to the commitments and promises is always a principle for the Islamic republic," he said during a weekly press briefing.

Progress has been made at the nuclear talks in Vienna, and this is acknowledged by all parties to the negotiation, Khatibzadeh said.

Last week, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said the Vienna talks are "arduous" but are making "step-by-step progress."

"Surely there will be now a decisive phase in which one has to await whether the newly elected Iranian president will continue to support what we have negotiated, as there are things about which we have already agreed on. That is our expectation," he said.


Despite calls by the international community for the removal of the sanctions against Iran, the Biden administration continues to maintain pressure, which is reciprocated by Tehran's further reduction of commitments under the deal.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi (C) is seen during a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (not seen in the picture) in Tehran, Iran, on Feb. 21, 2021. (Photo by Ahmad Halabisaz/Xinhua)

The policy has been repeatedly decried by Iranian officials, including Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who urged the United States to remove the sanctions as a sign of its willingness to restore the JCPOA.

Tehran's latest response to Washington's tenacity has been the announcement that Iran would soon produce enriched uranium metal.

A uranium silicide plate enriched to 20 percent purity would be used as fuel for a research reactor in Tehran, said Kazem Gharibabadi, Iran's representative to the international organizations in Vienna, while notifying the International Atomic Energy Agency of this plan.

Tehran has repeatedly announced that its nuclear program is peaceful.

Reacting to Iran's measure, Britain, France and Germany in a statement expressed "grave concern" about the decision, calling on Tehran "to halt all activities in violation of the JCPOA, without delay and to return to the negotiations in Vienna with a view to bringing them to a swift conclusion."

"The only way out of this vicious circle is the resumption of the Vienna talks without delay and full restoration of the JCPOA," Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia's permanent representative to international organizations in Vienna, tweeted.


The negotiations in Vienna focused on resolving the technical issues and preparing the draft text of the outcome of the initial rounds.

It naturally takes more time and seriousness for the signatories to make their decisions on the remaining key issues.

In comments at the end of the sixth round of the talks, Abbas Araqchi, who is also Iran's deputy foreign minister for political affairs, said that each side had managed to make progress, especially on the draft text of the conclusion of their talks, calling on the relevant parties to make the necessary decisions with "seriousness and strong will" in order to restore the deal.

The finalization of the agreement on the revival of the JCPOA "depends on the political will and tough decisions of other parties involved," Khatibzadeh also noted on Tuesday.