As Nuke Talks Adjourn, EU Official Says 'Good Progress' Made With Iran

Iran's chief negotiator says the Vienna talks on reviving the nuclear agreement to take pause, while UN nuclear watchdog chief says missing surveillance footage at centrifuge plant 'very strange'

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Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS) Enrique Mora (C) and Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani (R)
Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS) Enrique Mora (C) and Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani (R)Credit: HANDOUT - AFP
Reuters
Reuters

Negotiators at indirect talks between Iran and the United States have just weeks to reach an agreement on rescuing the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, European powers and the talks' coordinator said as negotiations adjourned on Friday for at least 10 days.

Officials said Iran had requested the break, while Western powers had planned on staying until Tuesday, as the talks have made little discernible progress since they resumed more than two weeks ago.

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Iran's top negotiator, Bagheri Kani said on Twitter that he met EU political director Enrique Mora and other delegates on Thursday "to take stock of the situation and discuss the way forward".

"We have made good progress this week. We will convene a Joint Commission today and will continue talks after a break of a few days," he said.

Mora said he hoped they would resume this year, while some officials have mentioned December 27 as a tentative date.

Tehran's envoys have sought changes to the outline of an agreement that had taken shape in six previous rounds of talks, leaving the negotiations largely deadlocked while Western powers warn that time is running out to rein in Iran's fast-advancing nuclear activities.

"We don't have months, we rather have weeks to have an agreement," Mora told a news conference after a meeting that formally ended the seventh round of talks.

Mora and other officials said Iranian demands had been incorporated into the existing text to have a common basis for negotiation, but three European powers that are parties to the 2015 deal sounded less optimistic.

"There has been some technical progress in the last 24 hours, but this only takes us back nearer to where the talks stood in June," negotiators from France, Britain and Germany, the so-called E3, said in a statement, describing the break as "a disappointing pause in negotiations".

Also on Friday, UN nuclear watchdog chief Rafael Grossi said it was "very strange" that footage from a surveillance camera at an Iranian centrifuge-parts workshop at Karaj had gone missing after an apparent sabotage attack in June.

One of four International Atomic Energy Agency cameras at Karaj was destroyed in the apparent attack. Iran removed all four and showed them to the IAEA, but the destroyed camera's data storage device was not included. The IAEA and Western powers have been asking Iran to explain, unsuccessfully so far.

Under the agreement, Iran had limited its nuclear program in return for relief from U.S., European Union and UN sanctions.

Then-President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the accord in 2018 and reimposed U.S. sanctions, prompting Iran to begin violating its nuclear restrictions in 2019.

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