President Hassan Rouhani said Thursday the parties in Vienna talks have accepted to remove all main sanctions targeting Iranian oil, petrochemical, shipping and insurance sectors as well as the Central Bank of Iran.
“We have taken the main big step, and the primary agreement has been reached,” Rouhani said, while speaking at a ceremony to inaugurate a number of oil industry projects.
He said Iran’s negotiating team, headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Seyyed Abbas Araqchi, is still in talks over details of the final agreement “but the government has done its job”.
“Three months ago, I was wondering whether we in this administration can do this, but we did break coronavirus and sanctions,” he added, praising the Iranian people for their patience in achieving the victory, Press TV wrote.
Iran and the remaining parties to the 2015 nuclear agreement – Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain – began efforts early last month to resuscitate the deal that was nixed by former US president Donald Trump.
In quitting the deal, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Trump reimposed sanctions that had been lifted under the agreement and added new ones under his so-called “maximum pressure” campaign against the Islamic Republic to force Tehran into negotiating a “better deal” than the JCPOA.
The fourth round of negotiations in the Austrian capital wrapped up on Wednesday so that the delegations would return to their respective capitals for further consultations. The top diplomats are expected to begin the fifth round next week.
Prior to their departure, diplomats engaged in the talks noted the “good” progress that was made, saying an agreement is “within reach”.
US use of sanctions as leverage
Iran’s foreign minister on Friday the Biden administration's use of Trump-era illegal and inhumane sanctions as leverage in the talks is not acceptable.
Mohammad Javad Zarif made the remarks in a phone conversation with European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, as the two sides discussed the latest developments surrounding the Vienna talks that aim to lift the sanctions and bring the US back into full compliance with the JCPOA.
While appreciating efforts made by Borrell and his colleagues at the EU, Zarif denounced the protraction of Washington’s “economic terrorism” under President Joe Biden, who had promised to rejoin the JCPOA and repeal Trump’s “maximum pressure” policy on Iran.
“A fundamental change in this approach as a prerequisite for the success of the Vienna talks is a political decision that the US president must make,” he added.
Early on Friday, Borrell also said that he spoke with Zarif about the JCPOA. He noted that the delegations in Vienna made good progress in the past weeks.
“All sides now need to take necessary political decisions, so we can conclude negotiations & get back to full implementation,” he wrote in a tweet.
“Crucial for @IAEAorg to continue its verification activities,” Borrell added.
The latest round of talks come while a three-month monitoring deal Iran made with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) came to an end Friday.
Talks on monitoring deal
The IAEA said on Thursday that it is still in talks with Iran on how to proceed with the deal, adding that it will provide an update within days.
“(IAEA) Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi and Vice-President of Iran and Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi on 21 February agreed on a temporary bilateral technical understanding (for up to three months) that remains in effect,” the UN watchdog said in a statement, Reuters wrote.
“The agency and Iran are currently in consultations regarding the implementation of the existing understanding. The director general will provide an update to the [IAEA] Board of Governors in the coming days,” it added.
Meanwhile, Russia's Permanent Representative to the International Organizations in Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov voiced regret that the Vienna talks were not completed before May 21, saying the talks will continue nevertheless until they reach a successful outcome.