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Iranian Top Official Denies 'Disagreements' in Vienna Nuclear Talks

By Orkhan Jalilov May 7, 2021

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An Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister and chief Iranian negotiator at the Vienna talks Seyyed Abbas Araghchi held talks with the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Grossi on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, known as the Iranian nuclear deal, on May 6, 2021. / IRNA news agency

Chief of Iran's Presidential Staff Mahmoud Vaezi has dismissed reports of "disagreements" in the Vienna talks aimed at reviving the 2015 nuclear deal.

"The steps that have been taken so far are promising and claims on some new disagreements, disrupting the overall process of the negotiations are not true," he said on May 6, according to Iran’s Khabaronline website.

Vaezi expressed hope for the removal of US sanctions on Iran, saying that "based on the current progress and the skills and abilities of the Iranian negotiating team - and observing the red lines and the frameworks determined by high-ranking decision-making bodies of the country - we think that, God willing, the sanctions will likely be lifted."

US-based news website Axios reported on May 5 that "big gaps between the US and Iran over the measures needed to roll back and limit the Iranian nuclear program are stalling the Vienna talks."

Iran’s English-language Press TV also reported earlier that the US was refusing to lift sanctions on Iran, adding that the Washington and European powers are demanding the "destruction" of Iran's advanced centrifuges in return for a "temporary" reprieve from a number of sanctions.

Vaezi warned journalists against irresponsible reporting and sending the "wrong signals" to the public ahead of Iran's presidential elections, and stated that "in these crucial circumstances, the national interests should be on the agenda."

"Even if a group opposes the JCPOA, they should not weaken the negotiating team by spreading such news," he added 

Iran and the signatories of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iranian nuclear deal, are engaged in talks in Vienna to facilitate the return of Tehran and Washington to the agreement in an attempt to revive the deal. The US withdrew from the agreement in 2018 and reimposed sanctions that had been lifted under the terms of the deal. Iran responded by suspending its commitments and accelerating its nuclear program.

On May 5, Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh rejected another report by Press TV alleging that Washington's "insistence" on not lifting sanctions would "lead to a definitive halt in the negotiations".

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday that “the sanctions have failed and if we remained united, the sanctions will soon be removed.”

"The United States and the other parties to the negotiations have no choice but to return to the path of law and fully live up to their commitments,” the official website of the Iranian president quoted Rouhani as saying.

Iranian deputy foreign minister Abbas Aragchi, the chief Iranian negotiator at the Vienna talks, arrived in the Austrian capital on May 6 and met the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Grossi in the afternoon, prior to the beginning of the fourth round of JCPOA Joint Commission meetings, due to start the following day.

Aragchi said after the meeting with the IAEA chief that his discussions with Grossi had constituted a "comprehensive review" of such topics as Iran's nuclear program, the JCPOA, and matters that had arisen as a result of Iran's decision to cease implementation of the Additional Protocol of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

It should be noted that the decision to cease implementation would have restricted IAEA access to Iran's nuclear facilities.

Despite Joe Biden’s presidential campaign promise of returning to the Iran nuclear deal, the US has still not returned to the agreement, and former President Donald Trump’s sanctions have remained in place. Iran has accelerated its nuclear activities as a strategy to lead the Biden administration to revive the deal, but Washington has insisted that Iran first return to all its nuclear commitments.