US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday rejected calls by a group of Republicans for halting ongoing negotiations in Vienna over the revival of Iran’s nuclear deal, saying discussion will continue.
In a letter to US President Joe Biden on Thursday, 44 senators urged him to walk out of the talks due to Iran’s support for Palestinian resistance group Hamas that has fired hundreds of rockets and missiles into Israel over the past days in response to Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip.
“The talks go on in Vienna in an effort to see if we can return to mutual compliance with the JCPOA, and those will continue,” Blinken said, using the official name of the 2015 nuclear agreement.
The United States has been involved in indirect talks in the Austrian capital in a bid to return to the JCPOA, which UN inspectors confirmed Iran was complying with until former Republican president Donald Trump trashed it in 2018 and imposed sweeping sanctions.
Iran has refused to hold direct meetings with the United States on how to resume compliance with the deal.
The Biden administration argues that the accord between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany was working in its goal while the Trump approach failed.
Talks in Vienna, led by the European Union, began in early April with Iran demanding that Biden lift all sanctions imposed by Trump before reentering the JCPOA.
Russia, China support
Russian and China — both parties to the JCPOA — once again backed Iran’s demand for an effective removal of the sanctions.
Senior diplomats from Iran, Russia and China, who are in Vienna for negotiations, held a trilateral meeting at Tehran’s permanent mission to the UN organization
s in the Austrian capital on Thursday.
The Russian and Chinese officials hailed the Islamic Republic for playing an active role in advancing the Vienna talks and supported Iran’s demand for the lifting of US sanctions, Press TV wrote.
The three further discussed and coordinated their positions on the talks and held consultations on a number of important issues related to the termination of the sanctions and nuclear issues.
Meetings and consultations between delegations of Iran and the P4+1 group of countries will continue in Vienna within the framework of trilateral working groups and bilateral and multilateral meetings at different levels.
France said that there had been some progress in negotiations, but warned that there remained a lot still to do within a short time frame if efforts to revive the accord were to succeed.
“The discussions… in Vienna have led to some initial progress on the nuclear issue,” France’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll said, according to Reuters.
“Nevertheless, major disagreements remain on some key points that must be ironed out in order to reach an agreement... There is still a lot to do, within very tight deadlines.”
Officials have said they hope to reach a deal by May 21, when an agreement between Tehran and the UN nuclear watchdog on continued monitoring of some Iranian nuclear activities is due to expire.
Diplomats have said they believe there had been sufficient progress in the Vienna talks that an extension of the monitoring accord between Tehran and the International Atomic Energy Agency was likely even if the modalities would still need to be worked out.