Published: 22:09, December 2, 2021 | Updated: 22:14, December 2, 2021
Iran gives drafts on sanctions, nuke restrictions at Vienna talks
By Reuters

This satellite picture from Planet Labs Inc. shows Iran's underground Fordo nuclear facility outside of Qom, Iran, Oct 23, 2021.  (PLANET LABS INC VIA AP)

VIENNA - Iran has provided European powers involved in its tattered nuclear deal with drafts on sanctions removal and nuclear commitments, Iran's top nuclear negotiator said on Thursday, as world powers and Tehran try to reinstate the pact.

The announcement came on the fourth day of indirect talks between Iran and the United States on bringing both fully back into the deal. The talks resumed after a five-month hiatus prompted by Iran's election of an anti-Western hardliner as president.

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"We have delivered two proposed drafts to them...Of course they need to check the texts that we have provided to them. If they are ready to continue the talks, we are in Vienna to continue the talks," Iran's Ali Bagheri Kani told reporters.

Israel urged world powers to halt the talks with its arch-enemy immediately, citing a UN nuclear watchdog report that Tehran has begun refining uranium with more advanced centrifuges in its Fordow plant 

A European diplomat in Vienna confirmed draft documents had been handed over.

Under the pact, Tehran limited its uranium enrichment program, a potential pathway to nuclear weapons though Iran says it seeks only civilian atomic energy, in exchange for relief from US, European Union and UN economic sanctions.

But in 2018, then-US president Donald Trump abandoned the deal, calling it too soft on Iran, and reimposed harsh US sanctions, spurring Tehran to breach nuclear limits in the pact.

"We want all sanctions to be lifted at once," Bagheri told reporters. He said an Iranian proposal regarding how to verify the removal of sanctions - Tehran's overriding priority in the talks - would be handed over to the European parties later.

A senior European diplomat estimated on Tuesday that 70-80 percent of a draft deal on salvaging the 2015 accord was completed when Iran and world powers last met in June, though it remained unclear if Tehran would resume talks where they left off.

While Bagheri Kani had said everything negotiated during six rounds of talks between April and June was open for discussion, a member of Iran's delegation said "elements in the previous unapproved draft that were in conflict with the nuclear deal were revised and gaps were filled" in Iran's submitted drafts.

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Israel, which opposed the original 2015 pact as too limited in scope and duration, urged world powers on Thursday to halt the talks with its arch-enemy immediately. It cited a UN nuclear watchdog report that Tehran has begun refining uranium with more advanced centrifuges in its Fordow plant dug into a mountain, where any enrichment had been banned under the deal.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said on Wednesday Iran had started the process of refining uranium to up to 20 percent purity with one cascade, or cluster, of 166 advanced IR-6 machines at Fordow.

Bagheri Kani planned to meet IAEA Director General Raphael Grossi later on Thursday in Vienna, where the agency is based.