Iran nuclear talks set for pause amid European 'concern'
Negotiations in Vienna aimed at reviving the Iran nuclear deal are to be suspended Friday, Iranian media said, as European diplomats expressed "disappointment and concern" at the latest proposals from Iran.
The semi-official ISNA news agency said the talks would "most likely" resume on Monday but French President Emmanuel Macron warned there could be a longer break in the talks, which resumed only on November 29 after a five-month break.
Iran said it has submitted two draft proposals for the nuclear agreement, which has been in tatters since the US withdrew in 2018.
"After the handing over of the text of the Iranian proposal to the P4+1 group (Britain, China, France and Russia plus Germany) and the European Union, a meeting of the joint committee of the nuclear deal will be held on Friday," said Iran's official news agency IRNA.
"This meeting was requested by the European side before its representatives return to their capitals to review the text proposed by Iran," the news agency added.
- European 'disappointment' -
Senior diplomats from the E3 group of Britain, France and Germany Friday expressed "disappointment and concern after thoroughly and carefully analysing Iranian proposed changes to the text negotiated during the previous six rounds", which took place earlier this year.
And speaking on a visit to the United Arab Emirates, just across the Gulf from Iran, the French president said it "should not be excluded" that this round of talks "does not reopen swiftly".
On Thursday, Iran's lead negotiator Ali Bagheri said the proposals concerned two main issues facing the 2015 accord known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.
"The first document sums up the Islamic republic's point of view concerning the lifting of sanctions, while the second is about Iran's nuclear actions," Bagheri told state television.
"Now the other side must examine these documents and prepare itself to hold negotiations with Iran based on these documents."
In a telephone call with EU top diplomat Josep Borrell, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said the talks were going well "but slowly on all tracks".
"We think that a good agreement is possible but that requires a change of approach by certain parties who must drop their threatening language and opt for texts focused on cooperation, mutual respect and results," the minister said.
However, in comments likely to please his Gulf hosts but anger Iran, Macron said a broader framework might benefit the talks on bringing Washington back into the deal.
"I think everyone is conscious of the fact that not talking, not trying to find a new framework on both nuclear and regional issues, weakens everybody and is a factor in increasing confliction," the French president said.
"It is also important to reengage a slightly broader dynamic and involve regional powers as well," he added.
"It is difficult to reach an agreement if the Gulf states, Israel and all those whose security is directly affected are not involved."
On Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called for an "immediate cessation" of the nuclear talks, accusing Iran of "nuclear blackmail".
In a phone call with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Bennett called instead for "concrete measures" to be taken against the Islamic republic.
The talks had resumed in the Austrian capital on Monday after Iran paused them in June following the election of ultraconservative President Ebrahim Raisi.
The goal of the JCPOA is to make it practically impossible for Iran to build an atomic bomb, while allowing it to pursue a civilian nuclear programme. Iran has always denied wanting a nuclear arsenal.