FAST FIVE: Iran Hails "Fruitful" Vienna Nuclear Talks; Israel Asks Biden To Urgently Suspend Dialogue

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Iran Hails “Fruitful” Vienna Nuclear Talks; Israel Asks Biden To Urgently Suspend Dialogue Four days into restarted nuclear deal talks in Vienna, and Iran's top negotiator, Ali Baqeri-Kani, has issued a rare positive statement Thursday saying that discussions have so far been “fruitful”.

The Americans must remove the sanctions.” Iran's Chief Negotiator, Ali Bagheri Kani, via EPA/The Guardian The Iranian side has still stuck firmly to its up-front demand of immediate US sanctions relief, pointing out that it was the US that unilaterally broke the deal under Trump starting in 2018. Baqeri-Kani was cited in state media and international reports further as confirming “the resolute intention of Iran to actively and positively engage in the talks in Vienna.” But Biden administration officials are still expressing deep skepticism, after the recently installed Ebrahim Raisi government was accused of stalling talks which had been off for months since mid-summer, with the charge being it was in order to buy more time to covertly ramp up nuclear development and uranium enrichment.

Israeli leaders especially have charged Tehran with using the Vienna process as a “cover” to make advances toward nuclear weapons – something which Iran has vehemently rejected.

#Israel's prime minister told @SecBlinken today, “#Iran is carrying out nuclear blackmail as a negotiating tactic, and this should be answered by the immediate halt to negotiations and the implementation of tough steps by the world powers.” – Jason Brodsky (@JasonMBrodsky) December 2, 2021 Perhaps because of this renewed Israeli pressure, Blinken has been cautious in his assessments: “I have to tell you,” he began from the sidelines of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), “recent moves, recent rhetoric, don't give us a lot of cause for optimism.” He added in the fresh statements: “But even though the hour is getting very late, it is not too late for Iran to reverse course”, referencing that Iran remains in breach of uranium enrichment caps and other steps it took after the US pulled out and ramped up the sanctions pressure.

“In the very near future, the next day or so, we will be in a position to judge whether Iran actually intends now to engage in good faith,” Blinken added.

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