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US reports "modest progress" in nuclear talks with Iran

US reports modest progress in nuclear talks with Iran

The USA has revealed that nuclear talks with Iran to re-enact the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) agreement were showing some "modest progress", even as it and other countries urged the country to roll back its nuclear programme. US State Department head Ned Price told media in Washington that it was too soon to say what fruit the talks may bear even though some signs were positive.

"At a minimum any progress, we believe, is falling short of Iran's accelerating nuclear steps and is far too slow," Price was quoted as saying.

Negotiations resumed Monday in Vienna in a fresh push to make headway on reviving a landmark 2015 agreement that curtailed Iran's nuclear activities in return for sanctions relief. The US withdrew from the JCPoA in 2018 and imposed heavy sanctions on Iran for nuclear enrichment programmes, sanctions which it wants removed if any progress is to be made on negotiations.

"We are clear that we are nearing the point where Iran's escalation of its nuclear programme will have completely hollowed out the JCPoA," the statement from the "E3 powers (Britain, France, Germany) said.

Israel has also said it will resort to "military options" if Iran continues its enrichment programme. Israeli forces are already suspected to have participated in the assassination of Iran's top nuclear scientists like Masoud Alimohammadi, Majid Shahriari, Darioush Rezaeinejad and Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan between 2010-2012. Another nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was assassinated in 2020.

Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian was quoted by state news agency IRNA on Tuesday as saying the negotiations were "on a good track". "With the goodwill and seriousness from the other parties, we can consider (reaching) a quick agreement in the near future," he said. The sentiments were echoed by Russian envoy to the UN, Mikhail Ulyanov.

Although world countries and the International Atomic Energy Association had expressed alarm at Iran's growing stockpile of enriched uranium, the country's Atomic Energy Organization director Mohammad Eslami says it has no plans to enrich beyond 60% (90% being the threshold for creating nuclear weapons).

The Vienna talks began after Biden's election but stopped in June as Iran elected a new ultraconservative government. They resumed in late November with Iran agreeing to keep talking after a brief break. While the US is ready to come back to a reformed JPCoA, ir has also expressed its reluctance to lift existing sanctions, bringing the talks to a halt several times.

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