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Over the weekend the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization vowed that his country wouldn’t enrich uranium over 60 percent, even if talks in Vienna toward a restored nuclear deal in the end fail. At the same time National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan has said the US is losing its patience in the talks, setting a deadline for when negotiations would end. Sullivan said the deadline will come “within weeks” if there’s no agreement. 

With talks in in Vienna resuming Monday, Iran is now spotlighting oil sanctions, insisting that the US and its allies make promises to allow the Islamic Republic to export its crude. New Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian under the conservative regime of President Ebrahim Raisi laid out that lifting sanctions on this crucial sector must reach the “point where Iranian oil is being sold easily and without any barriers and its money arrives in Iran’s bank accounts.”

Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani, via AFP

He stipulated that he expects this week’s round of talks, which is the eighth, to focus on Iran’s sanctions-hit oil industry. Amirabdollahian said that for any progress to be made, Iran should “be able to enjoy full economic concessions under the nuclear deal.” He added that “Guarantee and verification (of the removal of sanctions) are among topics that we have focused on.” The talks include signatories to the JCPOA including Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and indirectly the United States.

Talks will center around an agreed upon joint draft document negotiated from previously this month:

“We’ve set aside the June 2021 document and have agreed a new joint document and talks will begin today around that document,” state-run IRNA quoted Amirabdollahian as saying in reference to a text that was reached at the end of the sixth round of talks in the Austrian capital.

And separately, a statement from Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh on Monday said Tehran would find it “intolerable” for the West’s demands for compliance to go anything beyond the original 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) brokered under Obama, given it was Washington that unilaterally pulled out under Trump in 2018.

The US side, meanwhile, has continued warning that contingency options are on the table, with days ago Special Envoy for Iran, Rob Malley, saying in an interview that the Biden administration is ready in the near-term future to declare that the JCPOA is “no more”.

“At some point in the not-so-distant future, we will have to conclude that the JCPOA is no more, and we’d have to negotiate a wholly new different deal, and of course we’d go through a period of escalating crisis,” Malley said.

He said that talks were progressing too slowly, if at all: “If they continue at their current pace, we have some weeks left but not much more than that, at which point, I think, the conclusion will be that there’s no deal to be revived,” he stipulated.

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