“The Islamic Republic has come to Vienna with full seriousness and is negotiating with transparent demands and proposals,” the unnamed source told Iran's English-language news channel.
Iran, the source added, “stands prepared to continue intensive talks as long as needed, [but] it will not be ready to sacrifice its principled demands and the Iranian nation’s rights for mere artificial deadlines or timetables.”
Negotiators from Iran and the P4+1 group of countries — Britain, France, Russia, and China plus Germany — resumed on Monday the seventh round of the talks in the Austrian capital aimed at reviving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
The following day, they participated in expert-level meetings of the working group formed to separately deal with the removal of US sanctions against Iran. On Wednesday, they also attended the meetings of another working group on nuclear issues.
The negotiations restarted after a five-month hiatus in a new push to bring the United States back to compliance and remove its sanctions on Iran three years after former US president Donald Trump unilaterally walked out of it and unleashed a “maximum pressure” campaign on the Islamic Republic.
Iran began to roll back some of its nuclear activities a year later in phased fashion in response to US withdrawal and the European parties’ inaction to live up to their commitments and protect Tehran against Washington’s tough sanctions.
The administration of US President Joe Biden has said it is willing to rejoin the deal, but it has so far kept the sanctions in place as leverage.
Iran says it won’t settle for anything less than the removal of all US bans in a verifiable manner. It also wants assurances that the US would not abandon the agreement again.
GOP letter of threat
A group of 25 Republican members of US Congress wrote a letter to Biden this week pledging to block any sanctions relief for Iran.
The letter, obtained by The National, accuses the White House of withholding information from Congress and ignoring requests by the Republican Study Committee to provide details about the nature of negotiations with Tehran.
The committee has more than 150 Republican members and advocates for conservative policies on defense and foreign policy issues.
In the letter, the signatories reassert the power of Congress to impose sanctions on Iran.
They threatened to block any relief if they win a majority in the House in next year’s midterm elections.
“When Republicans return to the majority soon, we look forward to reasserting Congress's authority over economic sanctions by passing the Maximum Pressure Act and circumscribing the ability of your administration, like the Obama administration before it, to lift sanctions and abuse waiver and license authorities to provide sanctions relief to Iran,” the letter said, referencing Trump-era legislation that codified the sanctions regime on Iran.
Asked if the Biden administration was willing to lift sanctions on Iran, US State Department deputy spokeswoman Jalina Porter said on Monday that the goal is compliance.
“If Iran demands more or offers less than a mutual return to compliance, these negotiations will not succeed,” Porter said.
A senior European diplomat told Reuters on Tuesday they are waiting for Iran’s confirmation to “get into very intensive working mode”.
The diplomat noted that a draft agreement was 70-80% complete during the previous round of talks in June.
The senior diplomat from the E3 – the UK, France and Germany – explained that the remaining 20-30% consists of pending issues including Iran’s move to enrich uranium.
But Iran’s chief negotiator Ali Baqeri Kani told reporters that the points negotiated in the previous six rounds were open for discussion.
“What was discussed at the six previous rounds of talks in Vienna resulted in a draft and not an agreement. And a draft is subject to negotiations,” said Baqeri Kani.
He stressed that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”.