Middle East Desk
Tehran: Relatively satisfactory progress has been made in the nuclear talks in Vienna between Iran and negotiating countries, Iran’s negotiator Ali Bagheri said.
“Some written changes on the lifting of sanctions were established between the two parties and relatively satisfactory progress has been made over the first days of the eighth round of negotiations,” Bagheri said in a video message to Tasnim news agency.
His remarks come two days after negotiators from Britain, France and Germany described the talks as “urgent,” and warned that “we are nearing the point where Iran’s escalation of its nuclear program will have completely hollowed out” the deal.
Negotiations to restore the 2015 agreement began earlier this year but stopped in June as Iran elected a new ultra-conservative government. They resumed in late November with the latest round taking place on Monday.
The 2015 deal offered Iran much-needed relief from sanctions that have weighed heavily on its economy.
But the unilateral withdrawal by then-United States president Donald Trump derailed the deal and prompted Tehran to walk back on its commitments under it.
Iran had announced in April that it had begun enriching uranium up to 60% purity, well beyond the 3.67% threshold set by the pact. Uranium enriched to 90% purity is considered weapons-grade.
But on Saturday, Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Director Mohammad Eslami said Tehran had no plans to enrich uranium beyond 60%, even if the Vienna talks fail.
“The discussions focused mainly on lifting the sanctions,” Bagheri said Thursday.
“We hope that after a few days of pause, more serious work will continue on the question of lifting sanctions,” he continued.
Talks are due to pause briefly before resuming on Jan. 3. U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said, “there may have been some modest progress” in the negotiations.
Unlike other parties to the deal, Washington has only been engaged in the talks indirectly.
Shortly before Bagheri’s remarks, Iran had announced that it carried out a new space launch, a move likely to irk Western powers amid the ongoing talks.