May 10, 2021
Iran may consider extending cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) over inspections of its nuclear sites, according to top negotiator at Vienna talks.
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi told Japanese NHK television that Tehran hopes enough progress will be made so that there will be no need for an extension.
But he said that if needed, Iran will consider an extension at a proper time.
Iran indicated that it intends to end its cooperation with the Agency on nuclear inspections if no progress is made in talks on lifting US sanctions and other issues by late May.
Last month, IAEA Director-General, Rafael Grossi, said that the agency may need to discuss the matter with Iran again if no agreement is reached between the signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal.
It is believed that Araghchi and Grossi discussed the issue when they met on Thursday at headquarters in Vienna.
Observers say Iran wants to prioritize diplomatic talks because stopping inspections would spark international condemnation.
US, Iranian and European officials said that Washington and Tehran still have a long way to go to revive the (JCPOA), despite a US official saying that reaching an agreement is possible within weeks if Iran takes a political decision to do so.
Araghchi also believes there is a long way for negotiators before reaching an agreement.
“When it will happen is unpredictable and a time-frame cannot be set. Iran is trying (for) it to happen as soon as possible, but we will not do anything in a rush,” Araghchi told state TV.
The fourth round of indirect talks between the US and Iran is currently taking place in Vienna on how to resume compliance with the deal, which former President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018.
A European diplomat said that the US had put forward a comprehensive proposal that includes lifting sanctions on key sectors such as oil, gas, and banking, and indicated some openness to easing sanctions related to terrorism and human rights.
The diplomat, who asked not to be named, added that Iran had not shown any willingness to curtail any expertise it may have gained from work on advanced centrifuges nor to destroy them.
The US official said Tehran must avoid asking Washington to do more than what is envisaged in the original agreement while itself seeking to do less.
“The pace would have to accelerate for us to get there in the coming weeks and no guarantee that that will be the case,” he said.