An Iranian delegation headed by Ali Bagheri Kani Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs arrived in the Austrian capital and began preliminary talks 48 hours before the resumption of negotiations between Tehran and major powers to revive the 2015 nuclear agreement.
Discussions over the nuclear deal, which will kick off on Monday, will be headed by the European Union, in the presence of delegations from France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China. The US delegation, chaired by Special Envoy to Iran Robert Malley, will be outside the direct negotiating room, similar to the six previous rounds, at the request of Iran.
State-run ISNA news agency stated that the first round of talks between the parties to the nuclear agreement following the election of President Ibrahim Raisi “will be held at the level of deputy foreign ministers,” pointing to Tehran’s insistence on “lifting all the sanctions” in order to return to the negotiating table.
Iranian news sites reported that the negotiating team includes 40 people, including the deputy governor of the Central Bank, and representatives of the ministries of economy and trade. It was not clear whether the Iranian experts and officials, who attended the last six rounds, will be present at Monday’s talks.
Permanent Russian Envoy to International Organizations Mikhail Ulyanov tweeted that informal bilateral consultations began in Vienna in preparation for the resumption of official talks. The Russian official pointed out that reviving the nuclear agreement “requires a great effort.”
“If the opposing parties are willing to return to their full commitments and lift the sanctions, it will be possible to reach a good agreement, even an immediate one,” Iranian Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said in a telephone conversation with EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell.
“Iran wants a good, verifiable agreement,” and it will attend the talks “in good faith,” he added.
In turn, Borrell wrote on Twitter that he told Abdollahian that getting the nuclear deal back on track was more urgent than ever.
His call came after the United States and its allies - France, Germany and Britain - issued an explicit warning to Tehran, saying that if Iran’s non-cooperation is not immediately addressed... the Council will have no choice but to re-convene in an extraordinary session before the end of the year to deal with the crisis.
The Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, said following a visit to Tehran on Monday that no progress had been made on a number of issues.
“In terms of the substance... we were not able to make progress,” he told reporters, saying that the lack of agreement had come “in spite of my best efforts”.
Grossi had sought to tackle constraints put on IAEA inspections earlier this year, outstanding questions over the presence of undeclared nuclear material at sites in Iran, and the treatment of IAEA staff in the country.
Parallel to the tension between Iran and the IAEA, Israel escalated its rhetoric, threatening to resort to a military strike.
On Thursday evening, Israel’s Channel 12 revealed a British intelligence report, which until recently was only available to senior Western intelligence officials, indicating that Iran has enough enriched uranium to develop a bomb within a month.
The channel quoted a senior Israeli official as saying that Tehran accumulated invaluable knowledge, and thus the agreements signed with it became devoid of content. But he noted that Iran currently lacks a design for a warhead that is small enough to be affixed atop any of its arsenal of ballistic missiles, which will take them two other years to develop.