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Talks Aimed At Reviving Iran Nuclear Deal Resume In Vienna

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EU diplomat Enrique Mora: "Welcome to the 8th round." (file photo)

Talks aimed at reviving a landmark nuclear deal between Iran and world powers have restarted in Vienna, with Tehran saying that negotiations should focus on lifting sanctions on the Islamic republic and "guarantees" that Washington will return to the fold.

"The 8th round of the Vienna Talks just started," Alain Matton, spokesman for the European Union, which is chairing the discussions, wrote on Twitter.

The seventh round of talks, the first under new hard-line Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, ended on December 17 after Tehran added some new demands to a working text.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said ahead of the resumption that on the agenda should be "the issue of guarantees and verification" on the lifting of U.S. sanctions if Washington returns to the accord.

"The most important issue for us is to reach a point where, firstly, Iranian oil can be sold easily and without hindrance," Iranian media quoted Amir-Abdollahian as saying in Tehran on December 27 ahead of the resumption of negotiations in Vienna. "The money from the oil [sales] is to be deposited as foreign currency in Iranian banks, so we can enjoy all the economic benefits stipulated in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action."


The JCPOA limited Iran's nuclear program in return for sanctions relief, but sanctions were reimposed after then-U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the accord in 2018. Tehran, which claims the country's nuclear program is for civilian purposes only, reacted by gradually ramping up the program and enriching uranium well beyond the thresholds allowed in the agreement.

Diplomats from the parties still in the deal -- China, Britain, France, Germany, and Russia -- are taking part in direct talks with Iran. The United States has participated indirectly.

Iran refuses to meet directly with U.S. officials, with the other participants shuttling between the two sides. Washington has repeatedly voiced frustration at this format, saying it slows down the process, and Western officials still suspect Iran is simply playing for time.

Diplomats from the three European countries involved said after the talks adjourned 10 days ago that negotiators were "rapidly reaching the end of the road." They have expressed frustration with Tehran's new demands in recent weeks but pointed to "some technical progress" so far.

An EU statement said participants would "continue the discussions on the prospect of a possible return of the United States to the [deal] and how to ensure the full and effective implementation of the agreement by all sides."

U.S. national-security adviser Jake Sullivan said last week that current diplomatic efforts aimed at reviving the deal may be exhausted within "weeks," while the U.S. special envoy for Iran, Robert Malley, warned of a "period of escalating crisis" if diplomacy failed to restore the agreement.

With reporting by Reuters and AFP
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