They do not sit at the same table, in the same room or even in the same hotel and their meeting through European intermediaries requires diplomatic juggling, but the United States and Iran have taken this Tuesday in Vienna the first practical step in the complicated A process that attempts to resuscitate the 2015 multilateral agreement on Tehran’s military nuclear program , from which Donald Trump removed the US in 2018 .

Delegations from the two countries have participated, without direct meeting between them, in the first of a series of meetings of the Joint Commission of the JCPOA (the acronym in English of the Joint Comprehensive Action Pact).

These talks, chaired by the European Union and with the participation of the other signatories (Germany, France, the United Kingdom, China and Russia) have got off to a good start according to the statements of several diplomats.

They have been defined as ” constructive ” by Abbas Araqchi, the deputy foreign minister who leads the Iranian delegation in the Austrian capital, which also includes representatives of the Central Bank, the Ministry of Oil and its atomic energy organization. And Mikhail Ulyanov, Moscow’s ambassador to international organizations in Vienna, described the first day as ” successful” .

Ulianov has detailed that two working groups of experts , one focused on the lifting of sanctions and the other on nuclear issues, have left the appointment with the task of identifying concrete measures that Washington and Tehran must adopt to restore the full implementation of the JCPOA and they have started their work “immediately”.

A long and difficult process
The definitive success of the talks is by no means assured, the dialogue is long and complicated and the possibility of engaging in it directly is still remote, but the chapter this Tuesday in Vienna, with diplomats moving in shuttles between the Grand Hotel and the Imperial , at least represents the end of the blockade that had been established between Washington and Tehran after Trump’s abandonment of the pact and the reimposition of harsh sanctions, to which Iran replied violating the terms, limits and conditions imposed on it by the multilateral agreement.

“We hope that there will be difficult portions, that it will be a long process, but we continue to believe that a diplomatic route is adequate and that it has benefits for all parties,” Jen Psaki , Joe Biden’s White House press secretary, said Tuesday. .

The first great stumbling block
The first major stumbling block that arises in these early moments is Iran’s demand that Washington lift all sanctions to begin taking its own steps to readjust to the terms of the agreement, a condition rejected by the Biden Administration, which rules out carrying out ” unilateral gestures ”and demands that Tehran return to strict compliance with the pact.

Robert Malley , the US special envoy, who already helped negotiate the original agreement when he was part of Barack Obama’s National Security Council , recalled in an interview with US public radio that the Iranians “every day fail to fulfill more” their obligations. , and has specifically highlighted the increase in its enriched uranium, experimentation with centrifuges more advanced than those allowed by the pact and the restrictions imposed on the access of observers of the International Atomic Energy Organization.

According to Araghchi, the Iranian negotiator, this Tuesday they rejected at the meeting a specific US proposal that he described as ” ridiculous ” that would have thawed for the Iranians access to 1,000 million dollars of oil benefits that they currently do not have access by sanctions in exchange for suspending its production of enriched uranium 20%.

The diplomatic dance, in any case, continues and the next meeting will be held on Friday.

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