New Talks: World Statements

In April 2021, the European Union convened indirect talks between the United States and Iran in Vienna. The goal was to create two separate roadmaps to bring Iran and the United States back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal. The other five countries that negotiated the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia – also participated in the talks. Diplomats of the so-called “P4+1” countries met with U.S. and Iranian representatives in separate working groups.

The negotiations played out over six rounds:

  • The first round from April 6 to 9
  • The second round from April 15 to 20
  • The third round from April 27 to May 1
  • The fourth round from May 6 to May 19
  • The fifth round from May 25 to June 2
  • The sixth round from June 12 to June 20

The goal of the Vienna talks was to draft a roadmap of steps -- one on the United States lifting sanctions and one on Iran rolling back its nuclear program. But U.S. and Iranian diplomats did not participate in the same sessions.

European diplomats lauded the Vienna meeting as a potential diplomatic breakthrough. “We have no time to lose,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on April 2. “Returning to a nuclear agreement fully respected by all sides would be a plus for security in the entire region.” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drain urged Iran to be “constructive” in the Vienna talks and to “help identify in the coming weeks the steps that will be needed in order to return to full compliance with the nuclear deal.”

Both Russia and China also offered to mediate the Vienna talks but blamed Washington for the diplomatic impasse. “The U.S. unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA is the root cause of the tension in the Iranian nuclear situation,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on April 2, ahead of a virtual meeting between the P4+1 and Iran. “The pressing task now is for the U.S. to lift all illegal sanctions against Iran.”

Russia said that the United States would need to comply with U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231, which mandated lifting nuclear sanctions on Iran, before returning to the nuclear deal. “The impression is that we are on the right track, but the way ahead will not be easy and will require intensive effort,” Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s ambassador in Vienna, tweeted. The following are statements by the world powers on new diplomacy.

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European Union

Foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell on June 20, 2021: “We are very close. We have been working for two months... I hope that the results of the elections is not going to be the last obstacle that will ruin the negotiation process.”

Enrique Mora, E.U. coordinator for the talks, on June 20, 2021“We are closer to a deal, but we are not still there...“We have made progress on a number of technical issues...We have now more clarity on technical documents – all of them quite complex – and that clarity allows us to have also a great idea of what the political problems are.”

Mora on June 15, 2021: “The obstacles (are)...something that I think can be bridged... “This is why we are here: to negotiate these different approaches, and I think we will succeed.”

Remarks by Mora on June 2, 2021: "I am sure that the next round will be the one in which we will finally get a deal."

Statement by the EU External Action Service on May 24: "The Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) will resume in a physical format this Tuesday 25 May, in Vienna.

"The Joint Commission will be chaired, on behalf of EU High Representative Josep Borrell, by the Deputy Secretary General/Political Director of the European External Action Service, Enrique Mora. It will be attended by representatives of China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and Iran.

"Participants will continue their discussions in view of a possible return of the United States to the JCPOA and on how to ensure the full and effective implementation of the JCPOA."

Tweet on Josep Borrell, High Representative of the E.U. for Foreign Affairs and Security, May 21:

 

Remarks by Mora on May 19: "I am quite sure that there will be a final agreement ... I think we are on the right track and we will get an agreement." 

 

Remarks by Borrell on May 10: “I am optimistic, there is a window of opportunity that will stay open for a couple of weeks, (until) end of the month...But a lot of work is needed, time is limited and I hope that the negotiations will enter into a phase of nonstop (talks) in Vienna."

 

 

 

Statement by the EU External Action Service on April 26: "The Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) will resume its work in a physical format tomorrow, 27 April, in Vienna.

The Joint Commission will be chaired, on behalf of EU High Representative Josep Borrell, by the Deputy Secretary General/Political Director of the European External Action Service, Enrique Mora. It will be attended by representatives of China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and Iran.

Participants will continue their discussions in view of a possible return of the United States to the JCPOA and on how to ensure the full and effective implementation of the JCPOA."

Statement by the EU External Action Service on April 20: "The Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) resumed its work in Vienna in a physical format this Tuesday. The Joint Commission is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the JCPOA.

"The Joint Commission was chaired, on behalf of EU High Representative Josep Borrell, by the EEAS Political Director Enrique Mora and was attended by representatives of China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and Iran.

"Participants took stock of progress made in the ongoing discussions in Vienna regarding specific measures needed in terms of sanctions lifting and nuclear implementation for the possible return of the US to the JCPOA and its full and effective implementation.

"The Joint Commission decided to create a third expert group to start looking into the possible sequencing of respective measures.

"Participants reiterated their resolve to further pursue their joint diplomatic effort including in the Joint Commission and through continued separate contacts of the Coordinator with all JCPOA participants and the United States.

"The Joint Commission will reconvene in the course of next week."

 

 

Statement by the EU External Action Service on April 9: "The Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) resumed its work in Vienna in a physical format this Friday. The Joint Commission is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the JCPOA.

"The Joint Commission was chaired, on behalf of EU High Representative Josep Borrell, by the EEAS Political Director Enrique Mora and was attended by representatives of China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and Iran.

"Participants took stock of the discussions held at various levels since the last Joint Commission in view of a possible return of the US to the JCPOA and discussed modalities to ensure the return to its full and effective implementation. The Joint Commission was briefed on the work of the two expert groups on sanctions lifting and nuclear implementation measures and participants noted the constructive and results oriented exchanges. 

"In light of the joint ministerial statement of 21 December, the participants emphasised their resolve to further pursue the ongoing joint diplomatic effort. The coordinator will continue his separate contacts with all JCPOA participants and the United States.

"The Joint Commission tasked expert groups to continue their work and agreed to reconvene in Vienna in the course of next week."

 

Statement by EU External Action Service on April 2: “A meeting of the Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was held virtually on Friday, 2 April. Under the terms of the JCPOA, the Joint Commission is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the agreement. The Joint Commission was chaired, on behalf of EU High Representative Josep Borrell, by the EEAS Deputy Secretary General Enrique Mora and was attended by representatives of China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and Iran at the level of Deputy Foreign Ministers/Political Directors.

“In line with the joint ministerial statement of 21 December participants recognised the prospect of a full return of the US to the JCPOA, and underlined their readiness to positively address this in a joint effort.  Participants also emphasised their commitment to preserve the JCPOA and discussed modalities to ensure the return to its full and effective implementation.

“Participants agreed to resume this session of the Joint Commission in Vienna next week, in order to clearly identify sanctions lifting and nuclear implementation measures, including through convening meetings of the relevant expert groups. In this context, the coordinator will also intensify separate contacts in Vienna with all JCPOA participants and the United States.”

 

E3 (Britain, France and Germany) Joint Statements

Foreign ministers' statement on July 6, 2021: "We, Foreign Ministers of France, Germany and the United Kingdom, note with grave concern the latest report by the IAEA confirming that Iran has taken steps in the production of enriched uranium metal. This is a serious violation of Iran’s commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA). Iran has no credible civilian need for uranium metal R&D and production,  which are a key step in the development of a nuclear weapon.

"This further step in Iran’s escalation of its nuclear violations is all the more concerning at a time when no date has been set for the continuation of the negotiations in Vienna on a return to the JCPoA. This also takes place in the context of Iran having significantly curtailed IAEA accesses through withdrawing from JCPoA agreed monitoring arrangements and ceasing application of the Additional Protocol.

"We strongly urge Iran to halt all activities in violation of the JCPoA, without delay and to return to the negotiations in Vienna with a view to bringing them to a swift conclusion. We have repeatedly stressed that time is on no-one’s side. With its latest steps,  Iran is threatening a successful outcome to the Vienna talks despite the progress achieved in six rounds of negotiations to date."

 

France

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on June 25, 2021: "We're waiting for Iranian authorities to take the final difficult decisions to allow for the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal."

“It’s been six weeks since the negotiations started again. Some progress was achieved, and we will now be entering the most difficult times. It will require some strong and courageous decisions on behalf of the new Iranian authorities, but now is the time."

Junior Foreign Minister Franck Riester on June 23, 2021: “Difficult decisions will need to be made in the coming days or weeks if these negotiations were not to move forward.”

Foreign Ministry statement on June 16, 2021: "The negotiations become more difficult as they focus on the more difficult issues. Significant disagreements persist... This means courageous decisions are needed, which will have to be taken quickly, because we all share the opinion that time is on no one's side."

Remarks by French Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Agnes von der Muhll on May 11: "The discussions that resumed on May 7 in Vienna have led to some initial progress on the nuclear issue. Nevertheless, major disagreements remain on some key points that must be ironed out in order to reach an agreement providing for the return of Iran and the United States and their full implementation of the JCPOA. There is still a lot to do, within very tight deadlines.

"There is a broad agreement on the urgency and importance of Iran’s return to full implementation of all the verification and surveillance measures provided by the JCPOA, which that country unilaterally suspended on February 23. Without the implementation of these measures, the IAEA is unable to fully carry out its mandate.

"If an agreement on Iran’s resumption of its commitments is not reached before the expiration of the bilateral technical arrangement between Iran and the Agency, they will have to agree on its extension.

"Along with its E3 partners, France continues to play a major role in these discussions, in a manner that is both rigorous, with respect to the fundamental challenges of non-proliferation, and pragmatic."

Remarks by French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drain to the Guardian on May 6: “We need to achieve some progress urgently because due to Iran’s breaches of its own commitments Iran has never been closer to a nuclear weapon. The U.S. is very determined to make progress – they sent the necessary gesture and signals to show they were ready to take the necessary decisions to lift sanctions. At present Iran has not taken the corresponding gestures or signs about all their breaches of the accord since 2019. This is a crucial moment because it is now that the Iranians must take the necessary gestures.”

Statement by French Foreign Minister Le Drain on April 3: “I encouraged Iran to be constructive in the discussions that are set to take place…They are meant to help identify in the coming weeks the steps that will be needed in order to return to full compliance with the nuclear deal.”

 

Germany

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on June 22, 2021: "The talks in Vienna were very intensive. We are making progress, but there’s still a few hard nuts to crack, as we all know only too well, and we also know that the environment of the negotiations continues to be very complex now that elections have taken place in Iran."

"As far as the negotiations in Vienna are concerned, they are not easy. In the past few weeks, that has become quite obvious. There are a whole host of technical issues that need solving still. We are making headway step by step, one round of negotiations after the other, and we expect that now that a new government has been elected there are good opportunities for negotiations to continue and be concluded."

"We, for one, are convinced that it is worthwhile to engaging with the other parties even over such a longer period of time and to ensuring that the JCPOA is being revitalized and revived."

Remarks by Maas on June 12: "It is about flexibility and pragmatism from all participating parties... Playing for time is in no-one's interest." 

Remarks by Maas on May 10: "The negotiations are tough and laborious but all participants are conducting the talks in a constructive atmosphere. However, time is running out. We aim for the full restoration of the Iran nuclear deal as this is the only way to guarantee that Iran will not be able to come into possession of nuclear weapons."

Statement by Maas on April 27: “All those involved want to play a constructive role and are trying to come to a result that looks like this; Iran fully returns to its commitments and the US is also ready to lift the sanctions it imposed on Iran after withdrawing from the JCPOA."

Statement by Maas on April 2: “I am pleased that all relevant actors have agreed to meet in Vienna starting next week to work on fully implementing the JCPOA again. Jointly with our E3 partners France and the United Kingdom, we have worked hard towards this goal over the last weeks.

“We have no time to lose. Returning to a nuclear agreement fully respected by all sides would be a plus for security in the entire region, and the best basis for talks on other important questions of regional stability.”

 

China

 

Remarks by Wang Qun, China's ambassador to the United Nations on April 15: “what is needed most now as a top priority is to do away with any disruptive factors and pick up the pace of negotiation here.”

Remarks by Ambassador Wang on April 9: "All parties have narrowed down their differences and we do see the momentum for gradually evolving consensus."

Statement by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson on April 2: “The Iranian nuclear situation is at a critical stage. China has all along taken a just position and played a constructive role on the issue. We will take an active part in the JCPOA video conference to consolidate the consensus on preserving the JCPOA and discuss a roadmap for US and Iranian resumption of compliance in a synchronized, reciprocal manner, and work for the JCPOA to get back on track at an early date.

“I want to stress that the US unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA is the root cause of the tension in the Iranian nuclear situation. We welcome the willingness of the US side to return to the JCPOA. The pressing task now is for the US to lift all illegal sanctions against Iran and long-arm jurisdiction over a third party. This is an inherent requirement of the return to the JCPOA. On this basis, Iran should resume full implementation of the nuclear deal.

“China will work with other parties to advance the political settlement process of the Iranian nuclear issue, and at the same time resolutely safeguard its legitimate rights and interests.”

 

Russia

Interview with Ambassador Mikhail Ulyanov, Permanent Representative of Russia to International Organizations, on July 11, 2011

Question: "When can the negotiations process be resumed?

Ulyanov: "As of today, no one, including Iranians, has an answer to that. It’s understandable: Iran has recently elected a new president, there’s a new team coming to the office, they need time to figure this out. The question is really critical for both the Iranian society and the establishment. It’s been a subject of a heated debate. So it’s not surprising.

"A different issue is that it starts causing, I’d say, a certain irritation among other participants of the negotiations. Which is also clear, because leaving new agreements hanging for such a long time does no good for the cause. We presume that the sooner the talks resume the better. I think they won’t start earlier than in ten days, maybe later."

Question: "How will Russia benefit from the JCPOA restoration?

Ulyanov: "There is both multilateral and bilateral dimension to that. If we’re talking about the former, in our foreign policy the issue of nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction plays quite an integral part. It’s one of our priorities. Restoration of the JCPOA will ensure the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program that Iran is undoubtedly entitled to. If we get to restore the Nuclear Deal, it’s going to be if not breakthrough, but surely a considerable success in strengthening the international nuclear nonproliferation regime."

"As far as the bilateral track is concerned, restoration of the JCPOA would entail lifting of the critical mass of the US trade and economic sanctions against Iran. It would make the work of the Russian businesses – whether state-owned or private – more comfortable. This is also an important aspect."

Question: "There have been six rounds on the JCPOA restoration. Is it possible to assess what part of the path has been covered?"

Ulyanov: "My impression is that we’ve covered 90 percent of the path. Relatively speaking, there isn’t much left. However, those 10 percent contain a number of politically sensitive issues that can hold the process back."

Question: "And those issues are?"

Ulyanov: "One of the very real questions, for instance, is whether there can be a guarantee that this saga that unfolded under Donald Trump presidency and brought disastrous results won’t happen again. It’s quite problematic."

Question: "Has the sequence been identified for what each side has to do to restore the Deal? Should the US lift post-2018 sanctions or Iran restore the full implementation of its commitments to limit its nuclear program? Someone has to go first or both can do it simultaneously?"

Ulyanov: "There’s almost a full clarity on that. But the sequence itself is yet subject to discussion, although, I repeat – the contours are there, and no one seems to have objections in that regard."

Question: "Who has to make the first step: the United States or Iran?"

Ulyanov: "I can outline the Russian view: it’s obvious that the United States has to take the first step because they misbehaved, left the deal and nearly destroyed it, threatening the entire world with exterritorial sanctions."

Question: "How do you like working with the new U.S. administration?"

Ulyanov: "My colleagues and I enjoy working with the new U.S. negotiators. In times of Donald Trump’s administration, we rarely had a proper conversation. I feel like now the US takes quite a pragmatic and overall balanced stance.

"We do have significant differences on several issues, but in general they are demonstrating a business-like approach that paves the way to reaching agreements. I think that in this case such positive impression can be explained, first and foremost, by the unity of purpose – a collective aspiration to restore the Nuclear Deal."

"Their position was instrumental in rejecting a harmful idea of the ‘JCPOA+’ that was actively promulgated by the E3 (France, Germany, United Kingdom). If the task had been to restore the JCPOA and add some commitments on top of that, the negotiations wouldn’t have started at all.

"The U.S. [administration] understood that and pragmatically refrained from the temptation to impose new demands on Iran. In circumstances when Russia and China also pronounced against the ‘JCPOA+’, our European colleagues also opted for a more rational approach. That’s why from the very outset we reached an understanding that the goal of the negotiations is to restore the original JCPOA. Nothing more, nothing less.

"However, in reality we witness that everyone, except for us and the Chinese, are trying to add something or take something off. In such cases we have to remind them that this goes beyond the framework of the agreed goal of the negotiations. We intend to keep doing that."

Question: "What’s the Russian position on Iran having revised the conditions of what it had been doing before in accordance with the JCPOA in terms of transparency measures with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)?"

Ulyanov: "As a rule, when we commented on Tehran’s stepping away from Nuclear Deal’s provisions, we used the word ‘regret.’ But now it seems there are reasons for concern. Iran seems to be going too far. For the first time in practice of the non-nuclear-weapon-states there’s enrichment up to 60 percent, there’s uranium metal. The sooner we agree on how to restore the JCPOA, the faster we eliminate that.

"At the moment our Western colleagues are concerned about the expiration of the temporary technical understandings reached between the IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi and Tehran last February dealing with functioning of cameras on Iranian facilities. In the end of June, Iranians decided not to extend these understandings. I think there’s no need to over-dramatize. On one condition: if the cameras continue working, and their footage is being stored. Judging by public statements from Iran, that is what’s planned. I’d like to draw particular attention to the fact that recording and preserving the video footage corresponds not only to the IAEA’s, but also to Iran’s interests. Without that, there would be a gap in the IAEA’s knowledge of Iranian nuclear program that would result in having more questions to Iran that it would have hard time responding to."

 

Ambassador Ulyanov on June 20, 2021“There are a few controversial points which require political decisions. Apparently diplomatic efforts to find common language have been almost fully exhausted. So the time has come for political decisions...I believe we have all chances to arrive at the final point of our negotiations, maybe even by mid-July, unless something extraordinary and negative happens."

Ulyanov on June 3:

 

Tweets by Ambassador Ulyanov on June 2:

 

Tweet by Ambassador Ulyanov on June 1:

 

Tweet by Ambassador Ulyanov on May 31:

 

Tweets by Ambassador Ulyanov on May 26:

 

Tweet by Ambassador Ulyanov on May 25:

 

Tweet by Ambassador Ulyanov on May 20:

 

Tweet by Ambassador Ulyanov on May 19:

 

Tweet by Ambassador Ulyanov on May 16:

 

Tweet by Ambassador Ulyanov on May 7:

 

Tweet by Ambassador Ulyanov on May 6:

 

Tweets by Ambassador Ulyanov on May 1

 

Tweet by Ambassador Ulyanov on April 28:

 

Tweet by Ambassador Ulyanov on April 27:

 

Tweet by Ambassador Ulyanov on April 26:

 

Tweets by Ambassador Ulyanov on April 20:

 

Tweets by Ambassador Ulyanov on April 19:

 

Tweets by Ambassador Ulyanov on April 18:

 

Tweets by Ambassador Ulyanov on April 17:

 

Tweets by Ambassador Ulyanov on April 16:

 

Tweets by Ambassador Ulyanov on April 15:

 

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Tweets by Ambassador Ulyanov on April 9:

 

Tweets by Ambassador Ulyanov on April 7:

 

Tweets by Ambassador Ulyanov on April 6:

 

Tweets by Ambassador Ulyanov on April 2:

 

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