TEHRAN – A senior Iranian diplomat leading the Iranian negotiating team in the Vienna nuclear talks has said that progress was made during the talks but delegations need to return to capitals to make some decisions regarding the talks.

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araghchi said during the fourth round of nuclear talks, which lasted for two weeks, “good progress” was made in terms of moving ahead in the nuclear talks but a few key issues remain unresolved which means that the negotiating teams should return to capitals to make some decisions. 

“After two weeks of negotiations, we will have a meeting to conclude, and then the delegations will return to the capitals for consultations,” Araghchi told Iran’s state media late on Tuesday. 
He added, “There are a few key issues that need further review and decision-making in the capitals, and we hope that they will take place in the next few days and that we will be able to conclude on these issues in the next round of talks.”

According to Araghchi, intensive talks and meetings were held at all levels. He said that Iran and its negotiating partners had bilateral and multilateral talks at expert and political levels. “During these discussions, we tried to reach a conclusion on the issues at stake, either to resolve the differences or to decrease them, and the result is that we are in a position where we can have a general conclusion,” he pointed out.  He continued, “There are some key issues that need to be resolved and there is agreement on the rest; the texts have been well written and so now is the time to go back to the capitals and have the final consultations and then continue the negotiations.”

Araghchi, along with a delegation of Iranian experts and diplomats, left Tehran for Vienna nearly two weeks ago to start the fourth round of talks over the revival of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

So far Araghchi has held several bilateral and multilateral meetings with the P4+1 group of countries. The JCPOA Joint Commission also convened several times. 
The European Union said on Tuesday that the Joint Commission will resume in a physical format on Wednesday, May 19, in Vienna.

“The Joint Commission will be chaired, on behalf of EU High Representative Josep Borrell, by the Deputy Secretary General/Political Director of the European External Action Service, Enrique Mora. It will be attended by representatives of China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and Iran. Participants will continue their discussions in view of a possible return of the United States to the JCPOA and on how to ensure the full and effective implementation of the JCPOA,” the EU said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Russian envoy to the Vienna talks Mikhail Ulyanov said “significant progress” was made in the latest round of Vienna talks. “I said that significant progress has been achieved, in my view. That is true. But unresolved issues still remain and the negotiators need more time and efforts to finalize an agreement on restoration of JCPOA,” Ulyanov said on Twitter. Earlier, he noted that the negotiations are moving ahead but with difficulty.
“So far so good but not easy. The work on restoration of the JCPOA continues, including during this weekend,” the Russian diplomat said on Twitter. 

He added, “The Vienna talks on JCPOA are conducted in various informal settings, as well as in the working groups on sanctions lifting, nuclear issues and practical measures to restore the deal. The drafting process is underway. If the need arises a Joint Commission can be convened.”

Diplomats from Iran and the P4+1 group of countries as well as the U.S. are in Vienna to discuss the measures needed to be taken to bring Tehran and Washington back into full compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal. Almost all parties to the negotiations said progress was made during the talks, though this progress did not amount to a complete revival of the JCPOA.

The fourth round of Vienna nuclear talks began in early May when negotiators from Iran and the P4+1 groups of countries as well as the U.S. returned to the Austrian capital after a short stay in capitals which included briefing and consultation meetings with senior officials.

Iran is in close contact with China and Russia as well as the three European signatories to the JCPOA. On Friday, Araghchi met with the Chinese envoy to the Vienna talks, Wang Qun. During the meeting, the two diplomats discussed the latest developments concerning the talks.

Also on Friday, the Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the Russian Federation, Kazem Jalali, met with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. The meeting focused on the current situation surrounding the nuclear deal. The two sides also stressed the importance of coordination and efforts of all members of the JCPOA for a sustainable implementation of the nuclear deal in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231.

During the meeting, Jalali praised Russia’s “principled and rational stance in support of the JCPOA and UNSC Resolution 2231 and its opposition to the illegal U.S. actions and sanctions” against Iran.

Meanwhile, an overwhelming majority of Iranian lawmakers called for a “100%, real” removal of the U.S. sanctions on Iran. In a statement issued on Tuesday, 200 out of the Parliament’s 290 lawmakers renewed emphasis on Tehran’s demand for a “real removal of all the sanctions and a rigorous verification of this [process].” It referred to the imperative as “the essential condition for Iran’s commitment to its nuclear obligations,” according to Press TV.

The lawmakers further pointed out that any talks between Iran and the other countries about the matter could only be judged as productive if they enabled the Islamic Republic to “draw true economic benefits” from the JCPOA.

They, therefore, strictly ruled out any partial removal of the sanctions that could retain some of the economic pressure on the Iranian nation.

“The U.S. should be completely, verifiably, and irreversibly disarmed of the sanctions weapon,” they said. “If the sanctions are not removed 100 percent, it is as if none of them has been lifted.”

The MPs regretted that the quality of the talks so far have shown that neither the United States nor its European allies in the deal — the UK, France, and Germany — have displayed serious determination for removing the bans.

The allies were even trying to impose further restrictions on Iran and pave the way for putting the Islamic Republic’s defensive and regional influence up for discussion, the statement said.

However, succumbing to the enemies’ excessive demands stands to afflict serious damage on the country’s nuclear program and its achievements, the lawmakers underscored.

They said nuclear activities had contributed to the country’s economy in areas such as clean energy and environmental protection, pharmaceutics, and agriculture.

Last week, a group of Democrats in the U.S sent a letter to U.S. President Joe Biden urging him to rejoin the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Fifty-three Democratic Party leaders said they have “strong support” for an initiative in the Biden administration to return to the JCPOA, which former President Donald Trump quit.