TEHRAN (Iran News) – The first round of talks in Vienna on Tuesday resulted in an agreement to continue expert-level talks, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said in a statement following the end of the meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission.
Two expert-level groups held separate meetings on Tuesday to discuss “technical” issues related to lifting sanctions and reverse nuclear measures.
“These expert-level meetings are to discuss technical aspects and details pertaining to the removal of sanctions and nuclear issues and report the result of their discussions to the [JCPOA Joint] Commission,” the statement said. It also quoted Abbas Araghchi, the senior Iranian nuclear negotiator in the Vienna talks, as saying that “lifting U.S. sanctions is the first and most essential move to revive the JCPOA.”
Enrique Mora, the European Union’s senior diplomat who led the Tuesday meeting called the talks “constructive”.
“Constructive Joint Commission meeting. There’s unity and ambition for a joint diplomatic process with two expert groups on nuclear implementation and sanctions lifting,” Mora wrote on his Twitter account.
The EU is the coordinator of the JCPOA Joint Commission.
“As Coordinator I will intensify separate contacts here in Vienna with all relevant parties, including the U.S.,” Mora added.
Mikhail Ulyanov, the Russian ambassador to international organizations in Vienna, also called the talks “successful”
“The Joint Commission meeting of #JCPOA was 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,” Ulyanov tweeted.
He added, “The groups started to work immediately.”
Diplomats from Iran and the U.S. did not meet face to face.
Representatives from Europe, Russia and China were to serve as a go-between. Both the U.S. and Iran insist the other needs to make a concession first. Iran insists the U.S. should lift sanctions because it is the U.S. that has quit the nuclear deal. However, the U.S. says Iran should scale back its nuclear program.
Robert Malley, who was present in Vienna on Tuesday leading the American team, told Morning Edition a day before that it’s only a first step in a long and difficult process with the goal of bringing both countries back into compliance.
“This is going to involve discussions about identifying the steps that the U.S. has to take and identifying the steps that Iran is going to have to take,” he says. “Because they’ve been increasingly in noncompliance with their nuclear commitments.”
Former President Donald Trump broke off from the deal in 2018 and imposed punitive sanctions. A year later Iran in turn began to gradually remove limits on its nuclear work.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the sanctions imposed by Trump are illegal and that they must be removed before Iran changes its nuclear activities.
Malley, who is serving as a special envoy for the Biden administration, responds that “it’s not going to work that way,” telling NPR’s Steve Inskeep that stance would mean Iran is “not serious” about rejoining the deal.
Iran has not quit the nuclear agreement. It has just taken remedial measures in accordance to paragraph 36 of the JCPOA.