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Negotiators Adjourn Iran Nuclear Talks, Leave For Consultations

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Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi second left) and Iran's governor to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Kazem Gharib Abadi (left), talk to EU envoy Enrique Mora after talks in Vienna on June 2.

Negotiators have adjourned talks on reviving the Iran nuclear deal for consultations in their capitals, saying on June 20 that further progress was made to restore the agreement but it's now up to the governments involved to make political decisions.

Enrique Mora, the European Union's envoy to the negotiations, gave no indication when the talks would resume but said progress had been made on a number of technical issues and the participants would have a clearer idea of how to close a deal when they return.

"We have now more clarity on technical documents -- all of them quite complex -- and that clarity allows us to have also a great idea of what the political problems are," Mora said.

Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia's envoy at the negotiations, said he expected the diplomats to return for the final round in about 10 days and said they could finalize negotiations next month.

"I believe we have all chances to arrive at the final point of our negotiations, maybe even by mid-July, unless something extraordinary and negative happens," he said.

In a written statement, senior diplomats from Britain, France, and Germany, known as the E3, urged speedy decision-making.

"Delegations will now travel to capitals in order to consult with their leadership," the diplomats said. "We urge all sides to return to Vienna and be ready to conclude a deal. The time for decision is fast approaching."

The comments came after the latest round of negotiations involving Iran and six world powers that have been going on in Vienna since April.

The meeting was overshadowed by the election of Ebrahim Raisi in Iran, which puts hard-liners in control of Iran's government.

Raisi, who won nearly 62 percent of the vote in the June 18 election, will take office in early August, replacing Hassan Rohani, who has served the maximum two consecutive terms. He was a key architect of the nuclear deal, which lifted some international sanctions in exchange for Iran agreeing to curbs on its nuclear program.

EU foreign-policy chief Josep Borrell said on June 20 he hoped the election of Raisi would not be an obstacle to reaching a deal in Vienna.

"We are very close. We have been working for two months," Borrell told reporters during a visit to Beirut. "So I hope that the results of the elections is not going to be the last obstacle that will ruin the negotiation process."

Israel's new prime minister warned that Raisi's election was "the last chance for the world powers to wake up before returning to the nuclear agreement and to understand who they're doing business with."

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Raisi was "infamous among Iranians and across the world" for alleged crimes against humanity for his part in execution trials three decades ago.

"A regime of brutal hangmen must never be allowed to have weapons of mass destruction that will enable it to not kill thousands, but millions," Bennett said.

Israel has long opposed Iran's nuclear program, which Tehran insists is intended for peaceful purposes.

The United States in 2018 withdrew from the landmark pact under which Iran agreed to curtail its nuclear ambitions in exchange for the lifting of many sanctions against it.

The remaining parties to the deal are Iran, Russia, China, France, Britain, Germany, and the European Union.

The United States is present, but not directly negotiating, mainly due to Iran's refusal to meet face-to-face. Instead, the U.S. delegation is at a nearby location in Vienna, with the other delegations and the EU as go-betweens.

Since U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 deal, Tehran has rebuilt some of its stockpiles of enriched uranium, a potential pathway to weapons.

Trump's successor, Joe Biden, has indicated a willingness to rejoin the agreement once Washington is certain that Tehran is willing to respect its commitments.

With reporting by AFP, AP, and Reuters
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