Russia’s envoy in the Vienna nuclear talks with Iran has said that his talks with the US side were good and an eight round might begin on Dec. 27 or Jan. 3.
Mikhail Ulyanov, Russian ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, told the official Tass news agency there was no clarity over the date but that his discussion with Robert Malley, the United States special envoy on Iran, “seems to be productive.”
"The pragmatic cooperation between our delegations in the course of the Vienna Talks is very important,” Ulyanov tweeted Friday after meeting with Malley. In his recent tweets Ulyanov has highlighted his contacts with Malley, and the Russian ambassador told Tass Friday he was “quite satisfied with the quality of our cooperation.”
Ulyanov said that both the US and Russia wanted to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) and to lift “the US sanctions imposed under the Donald Trump administration.” Ulyanov said this was “the basis we can build cooperation on.”
But Jake Sullivan, the US National Security Advisor. said Friday the talks in Vienna were “not going well,” and that Washington had communicated its “alarm” through the Europeans over Iran’s expanding nuclear program.
As the US withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018 and imposed ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions on Iran, Washington takes part only indirectly in Iran’s Vienna talks with remaining JCPOA signatories – China, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom.
Ulyanov noted that lack of direct communication between the US and Iran in an interview with Iran International in Vienna December 12 and said the main responsibility for mediation lay with the European Union, whose senior official Enrique Mora chairs the talks.
On December 15, Ulyanov tweeted about a meeting of Russia, China, and the US on the sidelines of the talks. "As you can see [in the photo,] Russians sit together with Americans. But it has no political implications," he wrote. Ulyanov held a separate meeting with Malleythe same day.
Russia has long argued that the US should lift ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions and that Iran should scale back the aspects of its nuclear program, expanded since 2019, that contravene the JCPOA.
Ulyanov told Tass Friday the Russian delegation in Vienna was “ready to work without breaks.” He said there were two options for continuing talks: “either to resume the work on December 27, at least the expert level within the framework of the eighth round, or on January 3, when everyone is ready...”
The European troika – France, Germany, and Britain – said Friday Iran had asked for the new halt in the talks. The lead Iranian negotiator Ali Bagheri-Kani told the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) Saturday that it has been agreed in advance that a break would be taken once “a draft of the agreement was made.”
Bagheri-Kani told reporters in Vienna Friday evening that the next round of talks could be the last: “We can reach an agreement in the shortest possible time.”