Before the start of negotiations, Iran rejects any commitments outside the nuclear agreement, and Europe calls for accelerating the pace of negotiations

The eighth round of Vienna talks will resume Monday evening, with the aim of reviving the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and the West. While Tehran refused to discuss any commitments outside the agreement, European countries called on it to make rapid progress on the outstanding issues.

Talks are taking place between Iran and the countries that are still part of the nuclear agreement (France, Britain, Germany, Russia, and China), while the United States indirectly participates in them.

Al-Jazeera correspondent in Vienna said that there were marginal meetings held today before the start of the negotiations, where the Iranian delegation met with the delegations of Russia and China, and the delegations of the European Troika countries held meetings with each other.

The talks aim to lift US sanctions on Tehran and Iran’s commitment to its nuclear commitments, as well as guarantees that Washington will not withdraw from the agreement again in the event of a return to it.

During the previous round, European diplomats spoke of progress at the technical level, but warned that time was running out for an agreement.

lift sanctions

Hours before resuming negotiating meetings at the Palais Coburg hotel, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said that any upcoming agreement on Iran’s nuclear program must guarantee Iran’s sale of oil and access to revenue without any hindrance.

Abdullahian revealed that the Vienna negotiations will discuss a “joint draft” on nuclear sanctions and measures.

For his part, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said that the Iranian negotiating delegation will focus on discussing the draft lifting of sanctions during the eighth round of nuclear negotiations in Vienna.

Zadeh added – during a press conference in Tehran – that any agreement must include real guarantees for the lifting of sanctions.

The concerned parties held 6 rounds of talks between last April and June, before they were suspended for about 5 months after the Iranian presidential elections, which ended with the victory of Ibrahim Raisi, and then resumed as of last November 29.

Demands outside the agreement

Meanwhile, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said, “We are determined to reach an acceptable result in the Vienna talks, and we refuse to give up our interests in the agreement.”

She added in a statement that some parties seek to have demands outside the nuclear agreement, stressing that Tehran will not accept any obligations outside the nuclear agreement, and that sanctions should be lifted.

“We call on the European Troika countries to take serious measures to return to the nuclear agreement,” the Iranian Foreign Ministry said, adding that these countries did not show any seriousness or real will about returning to the nuclear agreement.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry also confirmed that it does not object to the entry of international inspectors to the nuclear facilities, provided that the information is kept confidential.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry pledged to return from reducing nuclear commitments in exchange for everyone’s commitment to the nuclear agreement, noting that the other party should take advantage of the available opportunity and negotiate seriously on the current drafts.

She explained that informal letters and texts were exchanged with Washington in Vienna, but there was no direct negotiation.

European hopes

In contrast, EU Coordinator Enrique Mora said it is important to speed up the main outstanding issues by working closely with the United States.

“Welcome to the eighth round of talks, which will resume on December 27,” he added in a tweet on Twitter.

In turn, the European Union’s chief negotiator, Enrique Mora, said that the eighth round of nuclear negotiations seeks to save the nuclear agreement after the withdrawal of former US President Donald Trump from it in 2018.

Mora warned – in a statement today, Monday – of the dangers of Iran resuming uranium enrichment activities, pointing out that the agreement is trying to break a dead end after talks began in Vienna since last spring.

Israeli threats

In a related context, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid vowed that Tel Aviv would not allow Iran to turn into a state on the threshold of nuclear weapons.

Lapid said – during questioning before the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee – that “Israel will act alone against Iran, if necessary to defend its security.”

The current round comes in light of great tension, as Israel preempted it by issuing threatening signals, the latest of which was the statement of the Chief of Staff of the Army Aviv Kohavi on Sunday that the army will prepare military plans against Iran, adding that it is not permissible to reach an agreement with it regarding its nuclear project.

And Israeli Army Radio said on Sunday that Kohavi directed the acceleration of preparations for a possible attack against Iran, the day after Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi warned that any hostile move against his country would face a firm military response.

On the other hand, Iranian news reports said yesterday that the Aerospace Force of the Revolutionary Guards carried out a simulated attack on the Israeli Dimona nuclear reactor, as part of the “Great Messenger” maneuvers that were launched in Iran last week.

In this exercise, the simulated model of the reactor was targeted with 16 ballistic missiles and 5 drones, with very high success and accuracy.

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