Iran says initial nuclear talks with world powers ‘constructive’

Iran and the major world powers still party to a 2015 nuclear deal have met for talks in Vienna, Austria as attempts to return the United States to the landmark accord intensify.

Talks were held in the city’s Imperial and Grand hotels between representatives of Iran, China, Russia, Germany, France and the United Kingdom.

The countries will continue to discuss ways to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that former US President Donald Trump unilaterally abandoned in May 2018, Iran’s deputy foreign minister told state television on Tuesday following the meeting.

“The talks in Vienna were constructive … our next meeting will be on Friday,” Abbas Araghchi, who is leading the Iranian delegation in Vienna, told Press TV.

“We continue to reject any agreement concerning the release of $1bn of Iranian money [frozen in South Korea] in exchange for stopping 20 percent uranium enrichment,” he said in reference to an offer that the US reportedly put to Iran shortly before the Vienna talks began.

Russia’s delegate Mihkail Ulyanov said on Twitter that the meeting was “successful”.

“The restoration of JCPOA will not happen immediately. It will take some time. How long? Nobody knows,” he wrote. “The most important thing after today’s meeting of the Joint Commission is that practical work towards achieving this goal has started.”

A US delegation was also in the same city trying to save the accord, but the team led by Special Envoy to Iran Robert Malley did not take part in the talks with other world powers, as Iran has said it will not directly negotiate with the US until all harsh sanctions imposed by Trump and still enforced by President Joe Biden are lifted.

The US said the talks between Iran and world powers were “constructive”.

“We do see this as a constructive and certainly welcome step,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei has said Iran will immediately scale back its enrichment of uranium and deployment of advanced centrifuges after the country can verify US sanctions have been lifted, but is “in no hurry” as it is also trying to “nullify” sanctions through local production.

Iran’s delegation in Vienna, led by Araghchi, also consists of representatives from the country’s central bank, the ministry of petroleum, and the atomic energy organisation as the sanctions primarily target Iran’s financial sector and oil transfer.

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