February 15

By Maziar Motamedi

Iran has said any potential breakthrough in Vienna talks aimed at restoring its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers rests on political decisions by Western nations, after handing in its own final proposals.

“It’s better for Iran if there’s an agreement in Vienna and sanctions are lifted today rather than tomorrow,” said Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian in a news conference with his Irish counterpart Simon Coveney in Tehran on Monday.

“So we are in a hurry for a good agreement, but it must be within the framework of logical talks and to achieve the rights of the Iranian nation,” he added.

The Iranian foreign minister also called on the United States and the European signatories of the nuclear deal to “stop playing with text and time” of an agreement and display their political will.

Earlier on Monday, Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, said in a tweet that the talks in the Austrian capital have reached a stage where an outcome could be announced, depending on the US position.

Shamkhani also said he held a phone call with Iran’s chief negotiator, Ali Bagheri Kani, on Sunday which reinforced his view that the Iranian team faces a tough challenge in sticking to its agenda, and that Western parties continue to make a “show” of political will to evade their commitments.

This comes shortly after Wang Qun, China’s top negotiator, confirmed that Iran has offered its “final package” of proposals in response to a previous Western package, in what he called the “final stage” of the talks that began in April 2021.

The eighth round of the talks, which appears likely to be the last, is expected to yield results in the next few weeks as Western parties maintain very limited time is left to save the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Washington unilaterally abandoned the accord in 2018 and imposed harsh sanctions on Iran that remain in place. In response, Iran advanced its nuclear programme and is now using improved centrifuges to enrich uranium up to 60 percent. It has consistently maintained that its nuclear programme is peaceful.

All sides have concurred the talks have progressed in recent weeks. Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s chief negotiator, said in a tweet on Sunday that “all assessments were positive” following a meeting with US, European, and Chinese representatives without Iran.

Iran still refuses to negotiate directly with the US as long as Washington remains outside the JCPOA.

After a meeting with Amirabdollahian, the Irish foreign minister also met President Ebrahim Raisi.

Coveney was quoted by the Iranian president’s website as saying he understands Iran’s distrust of the US.

“Ireland believes that necessary guarantees need to be given to Iran as part of the current talks so the deal can be restored,” he said, in reference to Iran’s demands for guarantees the US will not renege on the accord again, and a period to verify the lifting of sanctions.

“What we emphasise on in these talks is that sanctions need to be lifted in reality and the rights of the Iranian nation must be respected,” Raisi told him.

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