This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
As international talks to revive a major nuclear agreement with world powers continued in Vienna, Iranian President Hassan Rohani said that he hoped negotiations led to a “renaissance” of the 2015 deal.
The day-old talks are U.S. President Joe Biden’s first major effort to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA) since taking office on pledges to curb Iran’s nuclear program following his predecessor’s withdrawal from the agreement three years ago.
“Once again, all parties have come to the conclusion that there is no better alternative,” Rohani said in a statement on April 7, referring to the JCPOA, which was reached over hard-liners’ opposition in the Austrian capital five years ago. .”Thus, we can hope for a renaissance of the Vienna nuclear agreement.”
The U.S. and Iranian sides have publicly clashed over the order of possible concessions on U.S. sanctions and Iranian nuclear activities before a new deal can be achieved.
Rohani staked heavy political capital on the 2015 deal during his first presidential term despite resistance from hard-liners allied with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who holds ultimate political and religious power in Iran.
“The U.S. says it wants to return to the agreement,” Rohani said. “Fine, let’s see how serious they are.”
U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said after the first day of talks on April 6 that Washington saw the discussions in Vienna as a “constructive” and “welcome step,” even though “we are not meeting directly with the Iranians.”
European diplomats are acting as intermediaries facilitating indirect talks between U.S. and Iranian officials, whose delegations are staying in nearby hotels.
Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Abbas Araqchi, told state television that his talks with envoys from the remaining parties to the agreement — Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia — were “constructive.”
Russia’s Vienna-based envoy to international organizations, Mikhail Ulyanov, said the negotiators got off to a “successful” start.
Ulyanov also said two expert-level groups on sanctions lifting and nuclear issues had been tasked “to identify concrete measures to be taken by Washington and Tehran” to restore the deal.
The Russian envoy predicted in a separate tweet that it would take “some time” to restore the nuclear agreement.