Germany's foreign minister warned Saturday that time was running out to revive the nuclear deal with Iran, speaking after meetings with her G7 counterparts.
Talks have resumed in Vienna to try to revive the 2015 nuclear pact (JCPOA), with both sides trying to gauge the prospects of success after the latest exchanges in the stop-start negotiations.
Iran has presented a tougher position, making new demands, including the removal of all post-2018 US sanctions at once before it would scale back its revamped nuclear program.
"Time is running out," German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock told reporters in Liverpool, England where G7 foreign ministers are meeting.
"It has shown in the last days that we do not have any progress."
Baerbock said Iran had resumed the talks with a position that set the negotiations back six months. The current round of talks in Vienna follow a pause of five months after the election of a hardline anti-Westerner as Iran's president, Ebrahim Raisi.
Earlier, US officials said Secretary of State Antony Blinken had held a "productive" meeting with counterparts from Britain, Germany and France on Friday, discussing the way forward for the Iran talks.
A senior State Department official said there was an "intense" conversation among the G7 countries, which were united in their position on the nuclear talks. "The statement will also be strong on the importance of getting Iran back to the table and that it is possible to conclude a deal but that the time is shrinking, so we're united in that," the official, briefing reporters on the condition of anonymity, said.
The official added that US Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley was heading back to Vienna for talks.
Iranian officials have previously said they were sticking to their tough stance.
Under the original nuclear deal, abandoned in 2018 by then-President Donald Trump, Iran limited its nuclear program in return for relief from U.S., European Union and UN sanctions. The West fears the program would be used to develop weapons, something Tehran denies.
Raisi said on Saturday that Tehran was serious in its nuclear talks in Vienna, the official IRNA news agency reported, but Iranian media have insisted that Iran has not softened its position and remains on what it proposed after talks resumed on November 29. Western negotiators rejected the Iranian position with dismay after the first round of talks ended on December 3.
The indirect US-Iranian talks, in which diplomats from France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China shuttle between them because Tehran refuses direct contact with Washington, aim to get both sides to resume full compliance with the accord.
The G7 meeting which is expected to result in a joint call for Iran to moderate its nuclear program and grasp the opportunity of the Vienna talks.
Reporting by Reuters