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Iranian president says Tehran is ‘serious’ in Vienna talks on reviving nuclear deal

Ebrahim Raisi speaks at a political rally in Iran. (Hossein Razaqnejad, Wikimedia Commons released)

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

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi says Tehran is serious in its nuclear talks with world powers in Vienna, the official IRNA news agency reported on December 11.

“We are serious in the negotiations and if the other side is also serious about the removal of the sanctions, we will achieve a good agreement. We are definitely after a good agreement,” IRNA quoted Raisi as saying.

His comments come as talks on reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal resumed after a few days’ pause in Vienna earlier this week.

European diplomats urged Tehran to come back with “realistic proposals” after the Iranian delegation made numerous demands last week that other parties to the accord deemed unacceptable.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said this week that Washington hopes the current round of talks “proceeds differently.”

The accord sealed in Vienna in 2015, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was meant to curb Iran’s nuclear program in return for loosened economic sanctions.

All the deal’s remaining signatories — Iran, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China — are talking part in the talks in the Austrian capital.

The talks were put on hold in June after the election of the anti-Western hard-liner Raisi as president.

The United States has participated indirectly in the ongoing talks because it withdrew from the accord in 2018 under then-President Donald Trump. President Joe Biden has signaled that he wants to rejoin the deal.

Washington was planning to send a delegation led by Robert Malley, the special U.S. envoy for Iran, to Vienna over the weekend.

Following the U.S. decision to withdraw and reimpose sanctions against Iran, Tehran has ramped up its nuclear program again by enriching uranium beyond the thresholds allowed in the agreement. Iran has also restricted monitors from the UN nuclear watchdog from accessing its nuclear facilities.

The United States warned it would take “additional measures” to block Iran’s ability to earn revenue if diplomacy over the country’s nuclear program fails.

“Given the ongoing advances in Iran’s nuclear program, [President Joe Biden] has asked his team to be prepared in the event that diplomacy fails and we must turn to other options,” White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said on December 9.