The resumption of nuclear negotiations .. Tehran refuses to set a deadline for the talks, and Israel does not oppose the conclusion of an agreement between the great powers and Iran

Today, Monday, the eighth round of negotiations to revive the nuclear agreement between Iran and the major powers resumed in Vienna, after a three-day hiatus. While Israel said it supported a “good” agreement between the major powers and Tehran.

And the Vienna talks are continuing at the level of expert committees, as the current round focuses on 3 tracks: lifting sanctions, nuclear commitments, as well as safeguards and verification mechanisms.

The chief Iranian negotiator, Ali Bagheri, described the discussions of the past days as positive, while European sources close to the negotiations said that the talks are still below the required level, and that the dispute over the lifting of sanctions is still deep.

Iran reiterated its refusal to set a time limit for the talks, and the Iranian Foreign Ministry stressed that Tehran would not accept any demands outside the nuclear agreement, adding that it had begun to feel “Western realism” that they could not make demands beyond the framework of the nuclear agreement concluded in 2015.

The ministry’s spokesman, Saeed Khatibzadeh, confirmed his country’s rejection of several requests from Washington for a direct dialogue between the two sides, calling on the opposite party to expedite the implementation of its commitments and reach an agreement, adding that the eighth round made progress in the areas of lifting sanctions, the verification mechanism for their lifting and guarantees for that, as well as nuclear procedures.

On the other hand, the progress of the negotiations was less – according to the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman – regarding the obligations of the opposite party regarding sanctions, in reference to the United States.

Israel’s position

In a related context, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said that Tel Aviv does not oppose the conclusion of an agreement between the great powers and Iran, if a good agreement is reached.

During a meeting with Israeli journalists, Lapid revealed contacts between Washington and Tel Aviv, and the rest of the countries participating in the Vienna negotiations, with the aim of influencing the formula of the agreement being worked on.

He added that thanks to the pressure exerted by Israel, the world is now dealing more seriously with the Iranian nuclear file, but he stressed that Israel maintains its “freedom to act unilaterally against Iran, as it is not part of this agreement.”

The Vienna negotiations began last April, and six rounds were conducted until last June. After a suspension of about 5 months due to the Iranian presidential elections, the talks resumed as of November 29, 2021.

Tehran stresses the priority of lifting the economic sanctions imposed by Washington in the aftermath, and obtaining guarantees that the US withdrawal will not be repeated. On the other hand, the United States and the European parties focus on the importance of Iran’s return to full respect for its commitments under the agreement, which it began retracting from in 2019 in response to Washington’s withdrawal.

The 2015 agreement allowed for the lifting of economic sanctions imposed on Iran, in exchange for limiting its nuclear activities and ensuring the peacefulness of its programme. However, its effects have become null and void since former US President Donald Trump decided to unilaterally withdraw his country from it in 2018, re-imposing severe sanctions.

President Joe Biden, who succeeded Trump in early 2021, expressed his willingness to return his country to the nuclear agreement, but only on condition that Tehran again complies with its terms.

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