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Asharq Al-Awsat
Asharq Al-Awsat
London - Adel al-Salmi

Iran Says Success of Nuclear Talks Depends on Washington's Flexibility

Two men in front of the nuclear negotiations headquarters at the Palais Coburg in Vienna (AFP)

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said Sunday that Tehran seeks to revive the nuclear agreement, pointing out that the success of the diplomatic track "depends on Washington's flexibility."

Amirabdollahian also called on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to resolve the remaining issues regarding Iran's nuclear activities and "distance itself from non-constructive political issues."

EU's Coordinator for Nuclear Talks Enrique Mora continued his meetings with Iran's chief negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani at the level of political delegations and experts.

Iranian media noted that the Iranian and US sides exchanged views to overcome two or three controversial issues.

State-owned ISNA news agency announced that the two sides focused on lifting sanctions, Including the list of companies, entities, and individuals.

They want to guarantee that Washington will not withdraw again from the nuclear agreement and ensure Iran and IAEA will resolve contentious issues, especially regarding the open investigation into the three undeclared uranium sites.

IRNA news agency stated that the ongoing meetings assert the theory that there is still hope to reach a final agreement, but it is subject to the Western party's approval of the requirements for forming a sustainable deal.

Amirabdollahian said on his Instagram account that he had made a phone call with the UN Sec-Gen, Antonio Guterres, noting that he called on IAEA to resolve the remaining issues related to Iran's nuclear activities and avoid politicizing its technical aspects.

"There is no place for nuclear weapons in the political doctrine of the Islamic Republic," he indicated.

On Saturday, Amirabdollahian told his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, that Washington needed a "realistic response" to Iran's proposals.

Western powers fear Iran's procrastination in nuclear negotiations as Iran's 60 percent enriched uranium has accumulated, and it accelerated its enrichment by running hundreds of sixth-generation centrifuges.

Earlier this month, the head of Iran's atomic energy organization, Mohammad Eslami, said Tehran has the technical capability to produce an atomic bomb but has no intention of doing so.

Eslami reiterated comments made by Kamal Kharrazi, a senior adviser to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, in July.

The officials' statements are a rare indication that Iran may be interested in changing the course of its nuclear program toward acquiring nuclear weapons, something it has long denied.

A European official reported that Tehran had dropped its demand for the removal of its Revolutionary Guards from the US sanctions list.

A senior Iranian official suggested that the issue might not be a sticking point anymore, telling Reuters on Thursday: "We have our suggestions that will be discussed in the Vienna talks, such as lifting sanctions on the Guards gradually."

The Iranian state media focused on the request for guarantees from the US administration despite statements attributed to the Bloomberg Agency on Thursday night regarding Iran's waiver of the warranties.

Tehran accepts a US pledge to obtain compensation for any withdrawal of US companies.

Media reports claimed that the US pledged that foreign companies investing in Iran would not be affected by any sanctions if Tehran withdrew from the nuclear agreement.

However, President Joe Biden cannot pledge that, given that the nuclear agreement is a non-binding political understanding and not a legally binding treaty.

Russian negotiator Mikhail Ulyanov said that talks to restore the nuclear agreement between Iran and six other states are going in the right direction.

"Looks like we are making progress. Let's keep our fingers crossed," the Russian ambassador said, adding: "We stand five minutes or five seconds from the finish line."

Ulyanov clarified that Moscow "fully" supports the current draft agreement, noting that "three or four issues" are left to be resolved.

"They are sensitive, especially for Iranians and Americans," Ulyanov said. "I cannot guarantee, but the impression is that we are moving in the right direction."

On Saturday night, Ulyanov denied the existence of a Russian and Chinese reservation on a draft by the European mediator in talks to revive the Iranian nuclear deal to overcome the current impasse.

The diplomat asserted that reports about Russia and China's rejection of Josep Borrell's proposal were "incorrect."

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the Russian Federation supports the position adopted by the Iranian side regarding the restart of the nuclear agreement negotiations.

Lavrov reiterated that Washington must quit its ideas of revised plans and comply with the initial agreements, adding that this "plan should be renewed only as approved by the United Nations Security Council, without additions, without any exemptions."

Tehran's position on abiding by the original agreement in 2015 is "absolutely legitimate," asserted Lavrov.

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