World powers resumed high-level talks in Vienna on Tuesday focused on bringing the United States back into the nuclear deal with Iran, in their first session since comments surfaced from the Iranian Foreign Minister alleging that Russia once tried to scupper the pact. The Russian Foreign Ministry has not responded to requests for comment on the remarks from Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, made in a seven-hour interview with a think tank associated with the Iranian presidency that leaked over the weekend.
Ahead of the main talks, Russia’s top representative Mikhail Ulyanov said he’d met on the side together with officials from Iran and China, but did not mention anything about Zarif’s comments. ‘We compared notes and exchanged views on the way ahead towards full restoration of the nuclear deal,’ he tweeted. ‘It was a very fruitful meeting.’ Following the main meeting with his counterparts from China, Germany, France, and Britain — the other parties to the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA — Ulyanov tweeted that they were ‘guided by the unity of purpose.’
‘Which is full restoration of the nuclear deal in its original form,’ ahe wrote. ‘It was decided to expedite the process.’ China’s delegate Wang Qun told reporters on his way out of the talks that discussions would continue on Wednesday. The U.S. Is not at the table because it unilaterally pulled out of the deal in 2018 under then-President Donald Trump, who restored and augmented American sanctions in a campaign of “maximum pressure” to try and force Iran into renegotiating the pact with more concessions. President Joe Biden wants to rejoin the deal, however, and there is a U.S. Delegation in Vienna taking part in indirect talks with Iran, with diplomats from the other world powers acting as go-betweens. The deal promises Iran economic incentives in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program. The reimposition of American sanctions has left the country’s economy reeling, and Tehran has reacted by steadily increasing its violations of the restrictions of the deal.