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Talks on US Back to Iran Deal 05/07 06:37

   World powers held a fourth round of high-level talks Friday in Austria aimed 
at bringing the United States back into the nuclear deal with Iran, with both 
sides signaling a willingness to work out the major stumbling blocks.

   VIENNA (AP) -- World powers held a fourth round of high-level talks Friday 
in Austria aimed at bringing the United States back into the nuclear deal with 
Iran, with both sides signaling a willingness to work out the major stumbling 
blocks.

   The talks began in early April and Russian delegate Mikhail Ulyanov tweeted 
following Friday's meeting that "the participants agreed on the need to 
intensify the process."

   "The delegations seem to be ready to stay in Vienna as long as necessary to 
achieve the goal," he wrote.

   The U.S. pulled out of the landmark 2015 deal in 2018 after then-President 
Donald Trump said the pact needed to be renegotiated. The deal had promised 
Iran economic incentives in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program, and the 
Trump administration reimposed heavy sanctions on the Islamic republic in an 
unsuccessful attempt to bring Tehran into new talks.

   Iran reacted by steadily increasing its violations of the deal, which is 
intended to prevent the country from obtaining nuclear weapons. Iran began 
enriching uranium to a greater purity, stockpiling more than allowed and 
beginning to use more advanced centrifuges in an attempt to pressure the world 
powers remaining in the deal -- Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China -- 
for economic relief.

   U.S. President Joe Biden says he wants to rejoin the deal, known as the 
Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, but that Iran needs to return to 
compliance.

   Iran, which insists it does not want to produce a nuclear bomb, has said it 
is prepared to reverse all of its violations but that Washington must remove 
all sanctions imposed under Trump.

   On the other side is the question of what Iran's return to compliance would 
look like. Delegates to the Vienna talks concede, for example, that Iranian 
nuclear scientists cannot unlearn the knowledge they acquired in the last three 
years, but it is not clear whether Iran's new centrifuges would need to be 
destroyed, mothballed and locked away, or simply taken offline.

   Because the U.S. is currently out of the deal, there was no American 
representation at the talks. Diplomats involved are shuttling between the 
Iranian side and a delegation from Washington elsewhere in Vienna.

   Between the high-level meetings, expert groups have been meeting to try and 
come up with solutions to the outstanding issues.

   Ahead of the talks, a senior U.S. official, speaking on condition of 
anonymity to discuss the U.S. position, said Washington has laid out the 
concessions it's prepared to make and that success or failure now depends on 
Iran making the political decision to accept those concessions and to return to 
compliance with the accord.

   The official said it remains possible to reach an agreement before Iran's 
June presidential election, which some believe are a complicating factor in the 
discussions.

   Iran's delegate to the talks, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, told 
his country's state-run IRNA news agency late Thursday that his team was trying 
to reach an agreement as soon as possible but would not act in haste and would 
act in Iran's national interests.

   "We are on a specified path about which there are, fortunately, agreements, 
but there are serious obstacles in the way as well," Araghchi said.

   Heading into the talks, Ulyanov tweeted that he saw positive signs from the 
Iranian minister's statements.

   "The head of the Iranian delegation is cautious in his assessment of the 
current state of affairs at the Vienna talks (very similar to assessments of 
the US colleagues)," he tweeted. "But both #Iran and #US refrain from 
pessimistic conclusions. This seems to be not a bad sign."

 
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