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Tehran's nuclear proposals halt Vienna talks, creating uncertainty

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Negotiations over reviving the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal have been adjourned in Austria's capital Vienna. Diplomats will begin consultations in their capitals next week before reconvening. The British, French, and German diplomats expressed their "disappointment and concern" at the latest Iranian proposals. These developments, analysts say, have led to the suspension of the meeting and mounting uncertainty for future negotiations, Xinhua reported on Friday.

Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani told Iranian media on Friday in Vienna that his country's proposals on the removal of illegal and oppressive sanctions and the nuclear issue are on the table. The Iranian news network Press TV quoted him as saying that since the European representatives had to consult with their capitals in order to provide a "documented and reasonable response" to these proposals, it suggested the talks be suspended for a few days.

Bagheri Kani said the European parties were not "satisfied" with some parts of Iran's proposals, adding the response to Iran's proposals would serve as the foundation for further talks. Iran's media, citing an informed source familiar with the Vienna talks, asserting that Iran's proposals are "in full conformity with the JCPOA and the principles contained therein".

According to European diplomats, it is not clear when these new gaps can be closed. Continuing from their different opinions about the texts negotiated during the six previous rounds of negotiations, these "new gaps" between Europe and Iran are the result of their different viewpoints.

As far as the three European parties are concerned, Iran needs to agree to restart negotiations where they left off in June. However, Iran's negotiators insist the previous rounds of dialogue were only drafts, so they do not represent legally binding documents. Enrique Mora, EU representative who chaired the Vienna meetings, commented on the progress made during the past few days in a more optimistic tone.

Chinese envoy to the UN and other international organizations in Vienna, Wang Qun, explained on Friday that the talks also helped other parties to understand better the position of the Iranian government's negotiating team. In addition to sending a full expert team, Iran also demonstrated its commitment to the Vienna negotiating process by submitting two proposal documents," Nour News, a media outlet affiliated with the Iranian government, reported.

According to a report on the news website of Iran's top security agency, however, Western countries did not put any initiative on the table and effectively slowed down the negotiations. As in the past, we must wait for the intensification of the Western blame game against Iran, the report warned.

After the Vienna talks, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, "What we have seen in the last few days is that Iran does not seem serious about returning to compliance, which is why we ended this round of talks." He warned that if diplomatic efforts failed, Washington would pursue "other options."

Since the talks resumed on Monday, blame games between Iran and the West have continued for months, especially since the word "serious" has turned into a major bone of contention.Washington even implied that Iran tried to prolong the Vienna talks as it built up its nuclear program inexorably. Tehran, however, said a good deal can be reached if the West exhibits "goodwill."

According to Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian, he spoke Friday with EU Foreign Policy chief Josep Borrell and described the process of negotiations as "good but slow".

He also said the West should take the initiative to end sanctions against Iran and cease its previous slogans, which violated the rights and interests of the Iranian people. We believe that a good deal is at hand, but it requires the parties to shift from the language of threats to a language of cooperation and mutual respect," he said. In addition, the objections against the nuclear talks have added to tensions and likely complicated the negotiating process.

US media reports state that 25 Republican congressional members recently wrote a letter to Vice President Joe Biden, promising to block any sanctions relief for Iran and reaffirming that Congress has the power to impose sanctions. Iranian economic gains were not realized due to the 2015 agreement, and US unilateral withdrawal from the agreement in 2018 re-imposed sanctions on Iran.

The nuclear negotiations have been shattered by hardliners who try to thwart major compromises by the government. According to a press release from Bennett's office, the Israeli prime minister called for an "immediate halt to negotiations with Iran" and "adoption of tough measures by the world powers" against Iran on Thursday.

Israel has been contacting the US and European officials, the Israeli media reported on Monday. Their claim is that the Israeli government has been providing information that Iran will be enriching uranium to weapons-grade purity over the past two weeks. On Thursday, Tehran's foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said his country's delegates in Vienna would not take instructions from Beit Aghion. Beit Aghion is the residence of Israel's prime minister.

"As #ViennaTalks advances, Israeli regime shows its true color again, calling for an immediate halt of negotiations," Khatibzadeh tweeted.

Moreover, Bagheri Kani told the press that he warned his counterparts about "the approach and outlook of actors outside the talks to negatively affect the negotiation process" on Wednesday.

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TAGS:Iran and JCPOA Iran nuke deal 
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