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Renewed US-Iran talks to salvage nuclear deal are 'serious' - Russian Envoy

VIENNA, AUSTRIA - NOVEMBER 29: (---EDITORIAL USE ONLY – MANDATORY CREDIT - "EU VIENNA DELEGATION/ HANDOUT" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) The first day of Iran nuclear talks, which began under the chairmanship of Enrique Mora, deputy secretary-general of the EU diplomatic service, has come to an end in the Austrian capital Vienna on November 29, 2021. Iran and world powers kicked off their talks in Vienna on Monday following a five-month break in a last-ditch attempt to restore the 2015 nuclear accord. ( EU Vienna Delegation - Anadolu Agency )
The first day of Iran nuclear talks, which began under the chairmanship of Enrique Mora, deputy secretary-general of the EU diplomatic service, has come to an end in the Austrian capital Vienna on 29 November 2021 [EU Vienna Delegation/ Anadolu Agency]

Russia's Envoy to talks on reviving Iran's 2015 nuclear deal said, on Friday, they had resumed in a "serious" atmosphere, even as few expect a breakthrough compromise while Tehran's disputed uranium enrichment programme surges forward, Reuters reports.

Indirect talks between Tehran and Washington restarted in Vienna on Thursday, with a meeting between Iran's Chief Nuclear Negotiator and European Union Coordinator, Enrique Mora.

Reuters, citing one Iranian and one European official, reported in June that Tehran had dropped a major stumbling block – its demand for the removal of its Revolutionary Guards from a US sanctions list.

A senior Iranian official appeared to dampen any such prospect, telling Reuters on Thursday: "We have our own suggestions that will be discussed in the Vienna talks, such as lifting sanctions on the Guards gradually."

After meeting Iran's negotiator on Friday, Russian Envoy, Mikhail Ulyanov, was quoted by Iran's state news agency, IRNA, as saying that reaching the finish line "may not be so easy, and time will tell whether we will succeed or not".

"But, in general, the atmosphere of the talks is serious."

READ: Biden vows to keep Iran's Revolutionary Guards on 'terrorist' list

White House National Security spokesman, John Kirby, said on Thursday that the negotiations were "pretty much complete at this point".

Bagheri Kani put the onus on the White House to compromise, tweeting that the United States should "show maturity & act responsibly."

Little remains of the 2015 pact between Iran and the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China, which lifted sanctions against Tehran in exchange for curbs on Iranian enrichment activity the West fears could yield atomic bombs.

In 2018, then-President Donald Trump ditched the deal and re-imposed harsh sanctions. In response, Tehran breached the deal in several ways, including rebuilding stocks of enriched uranium.

As Iran has refused to hold direct talks with its long time arch-foe, the United States, Mora shuttles between Bagheri Kani and the US Special Envoy for Iran, Rob Malley.

The Vienna negotiations broke down earlier this year chiefly over Tehran's demand that Washington remove the Revolutionary Guards from the US Foreign Terrorist Organisation (FTO) list. The US has refused to do so.

A European official said on Thursday: "It has been agreed that (removing the Guards from the FTO list) will be discussed in the future once the US and Iran can meet directly."

Tehran also demands that the International Atomic Energy Agency drop its assertions about Iranian nuclear activity, objecting to the UN watchdog's report last year that it had failed to fully explain uranium traces at undeclared sites.

The EU's top diplomat, Josep Borrell, submitted a compromise proposal in July and called on the parties to accept it to avoid a "dangerous nuclear crisis". Two Iranian officials said Tehran "was not happy" with the draft text.

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