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Iran, world powers agree to meet on nuclear deal in Vienna

Rohani, Putin, and Erdogan (Kremlin.ru/WikiCommons)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Representatives of Iran and world powers decided at a virtual meeting on Iran’s nuclear accord on April 2 to convene in Vienna on April 6, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman was quoted as saying by state media.

A European diplomatic source and a European official confirmed to Reuters that a meeting would be held in Vienna next week.

The April 2 meeting was held to discuss the possible return of the United States to the landmark 2015 nuclear deal.

The move was welcomed by Washington, which said it was ready to take “mutual steps” to return to the deal.

The virtual meeting was attended by representatives of China, France, Germany, Russia, Britain, and Iran — all signatories of the agreement — the EU said in a statement.

Russia’s envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) described the discussions as “businesslike” and said they will continue.

“The impression is that we are on the right track but the way ahead will not be easy and will require intensive efforts. The stakeholders seem to be ready for that,” Mikhail Ulyanov, Moscow’s ambassador to the IAEA, said on Twitter on April 2.

The online meeting was chaired by senior European Union diplomat Enrique Mora on behalf of EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.

The U.S. State department had welcomed the announcement of the meeting.

“We obviously welcome this as a positive step,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters, adding that the United States was in discussions on “initial mutual steps” to restore full compliance with the 2015 accord.

The deal was meant to provide relief for Iran from international sanctions in exchange for limitations on its nuclear program, which Tehran says is strictly for civilian energy purposes.

But the United States unilaterally pulled out of nuclear agreement in 2018 under former President Donald Trump, who reimposed crippling economic sanctions on Tehran.

U.S. President Joe Biden has signaled his readiness to revive the accord, but his administration insists Iran must first return to its nuclear commitments, most of which Tehran has suspended in response to U.S. sanctions.

Iran’s commitments include limits on the amount of enriched uranium it can stockpile and the purity to which it can enrich it.

Iran began restricting International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections of its nuclear facilities in February.

On March 21, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Washington must lift all sanctions if the United States and its allies want to see Iran return to its commitments under the deal.

The announcement of the virtual meeting came as a report by the IAEA said that Iran had breached more of its commitments.

The confidential report, obtained by Reuters and dated March 31, said Iran had begun enriching uranium using advanced machines at its underground Natanz plant, in violation of the agreement.