In this Feb 8, 2022 file photo, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani arrives at the Palais Coburg, a site where closed-door nuclear talks take place in Vienna, Austria. (LISA LEUTNER / AP)
DUBAI/TEHRAN/ZURICH – Top officials from Iran and the United States will resume talks in Vienna this week on reviving the 2015 nuclear pact, officials from both countries said on Wednesday, though they played down chances of a breakthrough and placed the onus on each other to compromise.
The ball is in Washington's court to save the pact, Iran's chief negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani tweeted before heading to Vienna, calling on Washington to "show maturity & act responsibly" and seize the opportunity of a new round of negotiations.
"The onus is on those who breached the deal & have failed to distance from ominous legacy," tweeted Bagheri Kani, referring to the US decision to abandon the pact under which Iran curbed its nuclear program in return for economic sanctions relief.
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Speaking at the United Nations, Iran's UN Ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi said Tehran had negotiated in good faith to revive the deal and blamed Washington for failing to guarantee Iran would receive pact's economic benefits.
Achieving this objective has been delayed because the United States is yet to decide to give assurance that Iran will enjoy the promised economic benefits in the agreement.
Majid Takht Ravanchi, Iran's UN Ambassador
“Achieving this objective has been delayed because the United States is yet to decide to give assurance that Iran will enjoy the promised economic benefits in the agreement," he said. “When the US makes the right decision Iran, in turn, will cease its remedial actions and resume the full implementation of its nuclear-related measures.”
An Iranian official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said talks would resume on Thursday.
US Special Envoy for Iran Rob Malley said he was heading to Vienna, suggesting he didn’t expect major progress.
"Our expectations are in check, but the US welcomes EU efforts and is prepared for a good faith attempt to reach a deal. It will shortly be clear if Iran is prepared for the same," he wrote on Twitter.
Malley said the talks would proceed on the basis of a text recently proposed by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell to revive the 2015 accord.
Eurasia Group analyst Henry Rome said he thought it unlikely the deal – called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – would be resurrected this year, putting the odds at 35 percent and saying neither side wanted the blame for its death.
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"For the US, the continued focus on the JCPOA postpones a messy and costly pivot to increasing diplomatic and economic pressure on Tehran," he added. "For Iran, continued diplomacy, even if unproductive, supports domestic markets, forestalls greater international pressure, and gives it cover for its continued nuclear advancements."
In 2018, then-President Donald Trump reneged on the deal, calling it too soft on Iran, and reimposed harsh US sanctions, spurring Tehran to begin breaching its nuclear limits.
Rob Malley, then CEO at the International Crisis Group, poses in his office May 7, 2018 in Washington, DC. Now US Special Envoy for Iran, Malley said on Aug 3, 2022 that he was heading to Vienna to resume talks on reviving the 2015 nuclear pact. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / AFP)
The talks on reviving the JCPOA began in April 2021 in the Austrian capital but were suspended in March this year because of political differences between Tehran and Washington. The talks resumed in late June in Qatar's capital Doha but failed to settle the differences.
Iran ‘pressing ahead with enrichment’
Iran has completed installing three advanced IR-6 centrifuge cascades at its Natanz fuel enrichment plant, according to an International Atomic Energy Agency report to member states on Wednesday seen by Reuters.
Iran has also informed the agency it plans to install an additional six IR-2m cascades at the FEP in a new operating unit, the report said.
The IAEA had no immediate comment.