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Remaining Iran nuclear deal countries meet in effort to bring back US

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By Euronews  with AP
Missiles launched during an Iranian military drill
Missiles launched during an Iranian military drill   -   Copyright  Imamedia via AP

Officials from Iran and five other world powers who remain part of the Iran Nuclear Deal are to meet on Tuesday, in an effort to bring the US back to the accord.

Former US President Donald Trump withdrew the country from the deal in 2018, instead stepping up sanctions against the Iranian regime.

Iran has since been violating the restrictions of the 2015 deal, which was put in place to restrict its nuclear programme in return for the easing of economic sanctions.

Over the last few months it announced its scientists had started enriching uranium up to 20%, a technical step closer to weapons-grade levels, and threatened to cut off surveillance cameras used by international inspectors.

On Friday it was announced the US and Iran would begin indirect talks through intermediaries, one of the first signs of tangible progress in efforts to return both countries to the terms of the deal.

After the virtual meeting on Friday the countries said Tuesday’s meeting would aim to “clearly identify sanctions lifting and nuclear implementation measures, including through convening meetings of the relevant expert groups.”

Officials from Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain will convene at the European Union-chaired meeting on Tuesday in Vienna.

A US delegation will also be in the city for talks. US President Joe Biden has indicated he is willing to re-enter the nuclear deal.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Monday the talks are a “healthy step forward” but added "we don’t anticipate an early or immediate breakthrough as these discussions, we fully expect, will be difficult.”

“We don’t anticipate at present that there will be direct talks with Iran," he said. “Though of course we remain open to them. And so we’ll have to see how things go starting early this week.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote on Twitter Friday: “No Iran-US meeting. Unnecessary.”

Iran analyst Soraya Lennie told Euronews she believes there is enough will from all parties to get the deal back on track.

“I don’t think it’s as difficult as it was to reach the deal in the first place. This crisis started around 2006 and the deal was reached in 2015," she said.

"The consistent message from Tehran is if the US is back in compliance then Iran will be back in compliance. The consistent message from Joe Biden is that the US didn’t want a new agreement, they wanted to rejoin the deal as it is.”

While everyone needs the deal, she says, it is the Iranian people who are suffering most from the breakdown of the accord.

"The Iranian economy, the Iranian people need the deal more than anybody because four decades of sanctions and then specifically sanctions under Obama and then Trump, and now Joe Biden who hasn’t repealed any US sanctions, these are really harmful on Iranian civilians, who have nothing to do with international politics, so they need a reprieve, they need a deal.”