Both the United States and Iran say they are ready to restore the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in full and they have no "open confrontation" between themselves, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the Vienna-based international organizations Mikhail Ulyanov said on Tuesday.
"The task is quite clear - to restore the deal in full. Both the Americans and the Iranians say they are ready. Naturally, the Iranians are very critical about the United States but there is no open confrontation, at least because they don’t speak with each other," he said in an interview with the Rossiya-24 television channel.
He noted that the United States and Iran maintain no direct contacts and communicate via mediators. "The European Union representative will play a key role of a go-between in contacts between the Iranians and the Americans, but Russia may also get involved, like any other participant in the deal," he explained.
Further work on the Iran nuclear deal may be complicated if no progress in reached by late May, Ulyanov said.
"It cannot be ruled out that [the deal] will be restored this year. I would say the task is to do it much earlier, because if no serious progress is reached by late May, we will again have problems with inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Iran," he said in an interview with the Rossiya-24 television channel.
The Russian diplomat noted that positive results could be expected already after the first day of talks. "We have ultimately passed from words about the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Iranian nuclear program) importance to actions. It happened today, immediately after the Joint Commission set tasks to the experts, who gathered together and began to work on both lifting the sanctions and on issues of Iran’s return to its commitments in the nuclear sphere. Of course, it is a serious moment, a qualitatively new one. And the task for all negotiators is to support this process. <…> As a matter of fact, it is clear already now the it is not going to be an easy job. But I think there are real grounds to expect a positive result," Ulyanov said.
The permanent representative to the Vienna-based international organizations said he plans to meet with US Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley, who leads a team of US negotiators on the Iran nuclear deal, on Wednesday.
"We have contacts with the Americans quite regularly. Tomorrow, I will meet with US special envoy for Iran, Mr. Malley, who leads a team of American experts in Vienna," he said in an interview with the Rossiya-24 television channel.
According to the Russian diplomat, the position of the current team of US of negotiators in Vienna can be characterized as "quite balanced, without extremities." "They are trying to understand what is going on and are heeding advice," the Russian diplomat noted. "So, we have no claims to those who are currently addressing the Iranian nuclear program. They are trying to find a way towards progress."
The Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) met in Vienna earlier on Tuesday. It was the first in-person meeting of the commission in 2021. Political directors from Iran and five international mediators (Russia, the United Kingdom, China, France, and Germany) discussed issues to restore full implementation of the Iran nuclear deal. The commission set tasks to the two expert-level groups (on sanctions lifting and nuclear issues) to identify concrete measures to be taken by Washington and Tehran to restore full implementation of JCPOA.
Iranian President said in a telephone conversation with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron on March 2 that the JCPOA was not subject to discussion and the only way to keep it in place was Washington’s lifting its anti-Iranian sanctions. Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on March 10 that Washington would relax its sanctions against Iran only after its return to the deal.