Iran hails 'remarkable progress' at Vienna nuclear talks while noting outstanding issues

Iran hails 'remarkable progress' at Vienna nuclear talks while noting outstanding issues
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh has hailed 'remarkable progress' at talks in Vienna with the US while noting that 'basic issues remain'.
2 min read
31 May, 2021
Saeed Khatibzadeh said that while 'remarkable' progress had been made, 'basic issues remain' [Getty]

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh has announced that his country is continuing with nuclear talks in Vienna with “sensitivity and accuracy”, but is also “not in a hurry to reach an agreement”

Speaking on Monday at a weekly press conference, the spokesman said that the negotiations have made “remarkable progress”, although conceded that “basic issues remain”.

“Each round of talks in Vienna could have been the final round. We should not rush. We have made significant progress but key issues remain,” said Khatibzadeh.

Since April the US, Iran, and other world powers, have been engaged in talks aimed at restarting the Iran nuclear deal, which fell apart in 2018, when the Trump administration unilaterally withdrew and reimposed sanctions on Iran. 

“Iran's position is that all the sanctions imposed by Trump, were aimed at depriving the Iranian people of the benefits of the nuclear deal,” explained Khatibzadeh. 

In addition to discussing the issue of sanctions, the two sides have also engaged in discussions regarding the fate of prisoners and the possibility of a prisoner swap, with the Iranian spokesman noting that there is, “a relationship between the Vienna negotiations and issues such as prisoners.”

Khatibzadeh added that Iran views the prisoner issue as “a priority for the Islamic Republic because they [the US] are unjustly holding hostages and on false pretexts.”

“If America facilitates resolving this humanitarian issue, this will constitute a better space for the ongoing talks in Vienna,” he said.

The current negotiations in Vienna are split into three committees, a committee to determine what sanctions America must lift, a committee to determine the nuclear measures that Tehran must take, and a committee for the procedural arrangements to return to the agreement. 

The fifth round of talks are currently underway and no decision has been made regarding the possibility of future talks. 

Russia’s permanent representative to international organisations in Vienna suggested on Twitter that the fifth round would be the final round. 

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“The fifth round of the Vienna talks on #JCPOA is under way. As of now, there are no plans for the  sixth. The negotiators proceed from the understanding that the current round should be final,” he tweeted. 

As talks with Western powers continue in Vienna, Iran is simultaneously conducting talks in Baghdad with Saudi Arabia, aimed at ending a long running feud between Tehran and Riyadh. 

Khatibzadeh said the talks were “taking place in a constructive space” and expressed his hope that they will “reach a constructive result”.

Tehran has previously said that talks with Riyadh regarding the annual Hajj pilgrimage had achieved positive agreements.