Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, who leads Iran’s delegation to talks in Vienna, said discussions to revive the 2015 nuclear deal “appear to be on the right track”.
“After days of intensive talks, it appears that we are now on the right track. But difficult way to go,” Araqchi tweeted after a meeting of the remaining parties to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in the Austrian capital.
“Too soon to predict the result. Expert Groups continue their hard work of clarifying important questions,” the diplomat added.
Iran, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China held several rounds of talks this month to salvage the troubled agreement from which former US president Donald Trump withdrew in 2018 and imposed tough sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
Participants hailed progress at the latest round on Saturday with Araqchi remarking that "a good discussion took place” within the JCPOA Joint Commission.
"It appears that a new agreement is taking shape and there is now a common final goal among all," he added.
"There are still serious disagreements that must be reduced during future negotiations," Araqchi pointed out.
"We think that negotiations have reached a stage that the parties can start working on a joint text. The writing of the text can start, at least in the fields with a consensus," Araqchi said.
Russian Ambassador to Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov said that “working groups continued to work in Vienna on sanctions lifting and nuclear issues” on Saturday and Sunday.
“Their tasks are not easy but the process is going on,” he tweeted on Sunday.
Iran’s ambassador to international organizations in Vienna said Sunday the ongoing nuclear talks are aimed at creating “a vivid picture on the removal of sanctions”.
Kazem Gharibabadi said it is necessary to identify and list the required measures to remove the sanctions.
He added that the US seriousness, in its claims to return to the nuclear deal and its commitments, should also be verified.
The envoy also noted that the principles outlined by the Leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei are the basis for the negotiations by the Iranian team.
The talks on Saturday came just a day after Iran said it had started producing uranium at 60% purity following an act of sabotage at its Natanz nuclear facility that it blamed on Israel.
Iran’s Parliament Speaker Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf said Sunday the 60% enrichment was a “decisive response” to a plot to undermine Tehran’s position in Vienna talks, Press TV reported.
Qalibaf said the boost in uranium enrichment lies within the framework of a law passed last December by Iran’s Parliament.
The enrichment, which was made possible in a short time, shows that the interval between decision-making and action in Iran’s nuclear industry has reached the minimum, he added.
"The important enrichment achievement proved to our enemies that Iran's nuclear industry has become indigenous and that any miscalculated action and pressure on Iran's national determination for scientific progress is ineffective,” Qalibaf said.
Iran had in recent months already raised enrichment to 20% purity. The JCPOA capped the level of purity at 3.67%, Reuters wrote.
The UN nuclear watchdog confirmed on Saturday Iran has started the process of enriching uranium to 60% fissile purity at Natanz.
"The agency today verified that Iran had begun the production of UF6 enriched up to 60%... at the Natanz Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant," the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a statement, Reuters wrote.
UF6 is uranium hexafluoride, the form in which uranium is fed into centrifuges for enrichment.
US President Joe Biden commented that the Iranian decision to ramp up enrichment would not be helpful, but added: "We are nonetheless pleased that Iran has continued to agree to engage in discussions."
Biden reiterated that he supports the 2015 agreement negotiated when he was vice president but would not make "major concessions" to rejoin it.
Iran wants the United States to lift sanctions before it rolls back the measures it took out of compliance in protest a year after the US pullout.