Sign In
April 15, 20217:26 AM PDT
World
Iran, world powers resume nuclear talks amid strains over enrichment, Natanz attack
Parisa HafeziFrancois MurphyJohn Irish

4 minute read
1/4
The Iranian flag waves in front of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters, before the beginning of a board of governors meeting, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Vienna, Austria, March 1, 2021. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner
Iran and global powers resumed talks on Thursday to rescue the 2015 nuclear deal in an effort potentially complicated by Tehran’s decision to ramp up uranium enrichment and what it called Israeli sabotage at a nuclear site.
Casting a shadow over the Vienna talks, Tehran on Tuesday announced its decision to enrich uranium at 60% purity, a big step closer to the 90% that is weapons-grade material, in response to an explosion at its key Natanz facility on Sunday.
Calling the move “provocative”, the United States and the European parties to the deal warned that Tehran’s enrichment move was contrary to efforts to revive the accord abandoned by Washington three years ago.
The 2015 agreement sought to make it harder for Iran to develop an atomic bomb in return for lifting sanctions.
Tehran's refusal to hold direct talks with the United States forced European intermediaries to shuttle between separate hotels in Vienna last week when Iran and the other signatories - Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia - held what they described as a first round of “constructive” negotiations.
Senior diplomats, excluding the United States, initially met to set the tone on Thursday in what diplomats anticipated would be a tougher round of talks to salvage the pact.
Two expert-level groups, seeking to marry lists of sanctions that the United States could lift with nuclear obligations Iran should meet, have now resumed their discussions.
"Currently I think the nuclear working group is more advanced, much more advanced, than (the) sanctions-lifting working group," Wang Qun, China's ambassador to the U.N. atomic watchdog, told reporters after the Joint Commission meeting of senior officials.
"So currently we should do away with all disruptive factors, moving forward as swiftly as we can on the work of negotiation, especially by zeroing in on sanctions-lifting."
Iran's foreign ministry said its negotiators had defended their decisions and expressed their disappointment at "the weak reaction" from European powers to the attack on Natanz.
SANCTIONS
Highlighting Western concerns, a senior diplomat said that while the desire was to make progress, Iran's latest violation could not be ignored and made efforts to achieve a breakthrough before the June 18 Iranian presidential election harder.
"The seriousness of Iran's latest decisions has hurt this process and raised tensions," said the senior Western diplomat.
"We will have to see how in the coming days we address these violations with the will to press ahead in the talks."
Tehran has repeatedly said that all sanctions must be rescinded first, warning that it may stop negotiations if the measures are not lifted. Washington wants Iran to reverse the breaches of the deal that it made in retaliation for tough sanctions imposed by former U.S. President Donald Trump.
"Iran’s “seriousness of purpose” in pursuing diplomacy was tested in the three years since Trump withdrew from the nuclear accord," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Twitter. "Iran - by remaining in the deal - passed with flying colors. The Biden administration, however, has only shown a commitment to Trump’s maximum pressure."
Enrique Mora, EU chief coordinator for the talks, said in a tweet it was good to see participants resume the talks "despite very challenging events and announcements over the past days."
Israel, which Tehran refuses to recognise, opposes the deal, an accord that Iran and U.S. President Joe Biden are trying to revive after Trump quit it in 2018 and reinstated sanctions. Israel has not formally commented on Sunday's Natanz incident.
The United Arab Emirates, which also supported the decision to quit the 2015 accord and reimpose sanctions on Tehran, urged Washington to push for a better accord and a Gulf diplomatic source said the Riyadh-based Gulf Cooperation Council had sent letters to global powers stressing the need for Gulf involvement in ongoing negotiations.
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Read Next
Read Next
Moscow's metro sacks staff with anti-Kremlin views -union
9:59 AM PDT
Read Next
Vacations in mind, younger French people rush for vaccines
9:54 AM PDT
Read Next
Lebanese youth killed by Israeli fire on border, says Lebanese agency
9:49 AM PDT
Read Next
Armenian PM Pashinyan asks Russia's Putin for military support -Ifax
8:58 AM PDT

Sign up for our newsletter
Subscribe for our daily curated newsletter to receive the latest exclusive Reuters coverage delivered to your inbox.
World
World · 9:54 AM PDT
Israel pounds Gaza to curb Palestinian militants but rockets still fly
Israel pummelled Gaza with artillery fire and air strikes on Friday as it targeted Palestinian militant tunnels to try to stop persistent rocket attacks on Israeli towns.
World
Lines, tokens and money brokers: Myanmar’s crumbling economy runs low on cash
3:22 AM PDT
World
The man behind Brazil’s search for miracle COVID-19 cures
8:59 AM PDT
World
Twelve killed in explosion at Kabul mosque during Friday prayers
5:16 AM PDT
World
Putin says Ukraine is becoming an 'anti-Russia', pledges response
7:07 AM PDT
Latest
Home
Media
Videos
Pictures
Graphics
Browse
World
Business
Markets
Breakingviews
Technology
Investigations
Lifestyle
About Reuters
About Reuters
Careers
Reuters News Agency
Brand Attribution Guidelines
Reuters Leadership
Reuters Fact Check
Reuters Diversity Report
Stay Informed
Download the App
Newsletters
Information you can trust
Reuters, the news and media division of Thomson Reuters, is the world’s largest multimedia news provider, reaching billions of people worldwide every day. Reuters provides business, financial, national and international news to professionals via desktop terminals, the world's media organizations, industry events and directly to consumers.
Follow Us
Thomson Reuters Products
Westlaw
Build the strongest argument relying on authoritative content, attorney-editor expertise, and industry defining technology.
Onesource
The most comprehensive solution to manage all your complex and ever-expanding tax and compliance needs.
Checkpoint
The industry leader for online information for tax, accounting and finance professionals.
Refinitiv Products
Eikon
Information, analytics and exclusive news on financial markets - delivered in an intuitive desktop and mobile interface.
Refinitiv Data Platform
Access to real-time, reference, and non-real time data in the cloud to power your enterprise.
World-Check
Screen for heightened risk individual and entities globally to help uncover hidden risks in business relationships and human networks.
Advertise With Us
Advertising Guidelines
Cookies
Terms of Use
Privacy
Corrections
Site Feedback

All quotes delayed a minimum of 15 minutes. See here for a complete list of exchanges and delays.
© 2021 Reuters. All rights reserved