Iran and other signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal held talks on Tuesday in Austria's capital Vienna over a possible return of the United States to the international agreement three years after it walked out of it.
The meeting, attended by representatives of Iran, Russia, China, France and Britain, was co-chaired by senior Iranian negotiator Seyyed Abbas Araqchi, the deputy foreign minister for political affairs, and Enrique Mora, the deputy of European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.
Araqchi told the Joint Commission meeting of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that the removal of US sanctions is “the first and most essential step to revive the nuclear deal”.
“Iran is fully prepared to stop its remedial nuclear measures once the sanctions are lifted and verified,” he said, according to IRNA.
Former US president Donald Trump withdrew from the deal in 2018, imposing a policy of "maximum pressure" against Iran, which responded by progressively rolling back some of its commitments under the accord.
But Trump's successor Joe Biden has said he is ready to reverse the decision.
Russian representative Mikhail Ulyanov described the Vienna meeting as “successful”.
“Two expert-level groups (on sanctions lifting and nuclear issues) were tasked to identify concrete measures to be taken by Washington and Tehran to restore full implementation of JCPOA. The groups started to work immediately,” Ulyanov tweeted shortly after the meeting.
He noted that the JCPOA restoration “will not happen immediately”.
“The most important thing after today’ meeting… is that practical work toward achieving this goal (JCPOA restoration) has started,” Ulyanov pointed out.
Ahead of the session, Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei welcomed recent comments by US special envoy to Iran Robert Malley suggesting that the United States would lift sanctions in order to rejoin the multilateral accord.
“We look forward to the implementation of this constructive approach,” Rabiei told journalists in Tehran on Tuesday.
Malley had told PBS on Friday that "the United States knows that, in order to get back into compliance, it's going to have to lift ... sanctions that are inconsistent with (the 2015 deal)", AFP wrote.
Rabiei reiterated Iran was ready to reverse the steps it had taken as soon as all sanctions imposed during the Trump administration are lifted.
"Iran does not accept a step-by-step initiative," he said.
Iran argues that Washington, as the first party that threw the JCPOA into crisis, must take the first step toward reviving the agreement by, practically and verifiably, removing all the sanctions it has placed on Iran following the withdrawal.
“We are ready to send a message to the JCPOA members that if sanctions are lifted.., the Islamic Republic is reciprocally ready to return to its commitments in the shortest possible time after verifying the implementation of the obligations by the other sides,” Rabiei stressed, according to Press TV.
Iran’s Ambassador to the UN Majid Takht-Ravanchi said “this opportunity shouldn't be wasted” by the Biden administration to fulfill a campaign promise to rejoin the JCPOA.
“If US lifts all sanctions, Iran will then cease all remedial measures. Can be win-win situation for all,” Takht-Ravanchi tweeted on Tuesday.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian Tuesday urged the US to return to the JCPOA “unconditionally” and “lift all illegal sanctions”.