As indirect nuclear deal negotiations between the US and Iran resumed for the second day in Vienna, Iran’s top negotiator said any agreements made during earlier talks are still “subject to negotiation.”
The US and Iran held six rounds of negotiations from April to June. The two sides reached a draft agreement that would lift most major sanctions but ultimately remained far apart on key issues, including over Iranian concerns that the US would leave the deal again.
“Drafts are subject to negotiation. Therefore nothing is agreed on unless everything has been agreed on,” Iranian negotiator Ali Bagheri said Tuesday. “On that basis, all discussions that took place in the six rounds are summarized and are subject to negotiations. This was admitted by all parties in today’s meeting as well.”
Considering no deal was ever finalized, Bagheri’s comments are reasonable, but western media reported his stance as Iran taking a “hard line.” Reports also said Bagheri contradicted EU official Enrique Mora who said Monday that Iran agreed “that the work done over the first six rounds is a good basis to build our work ahead.” But Bagheri’s comments do not suggest Iran is totally discounting the earlier progress.
A European diplomat told Reuters that they were still waiting on confirmation that the Iranians were ready to pick up where the talks left off and said the draft agreement resolved around 70 to 80 percent of the issues. The diplomat said Iran needed to show that it was “serious” about the negotiations this week.
Another factor is that the draft agreement was reached with the government of former Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who agreed to negotiate limited sanctions relief, a significant concession for Iran. While viewed as a hardliner, Iran’s new President Ebrahim Raisi still favors a JCPOA revival but might not be as patient with the US as Rouhani was. Raisi’s government will likely push to get more sanctions lifted than were agreed to in the draft deal.
Russia’s envoy in Vienna said the US was willing to lift some sanctions it deems “inconsistent” with the JCPOA and that the two sides still need to negotiate which ones. “The US confirms its readiness to lift all sanctions inconsistent with the JCPOA in exchange for return of Iran to full compliance with JCPOA. But in multilateral diplomacy the devil is in the details. The concrete list of sanctions to be lifted is subject to negotiations,” Mikhail Ulyanov wrote on Twitter.