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Progress Reported at Iran Nuclear Talks in Vienna 


This May 1, 2021, photo from the EU delegation shows delegation members from parties to the Iran nuclear deal — Germany, France, Britain, China, Russia and Iran — attending a meeting at the Grand Hotel of Vienna as they try to restore the deal.

U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil and banks will be lifted, Iran’s top negotiator told Iranian state media Saturday, based on agreements made at talks in Vienna.

Some of Iran’s partners in the talks — France, Britain, Germany and Russia — said the talks focused on bringing the United States back into the nuclear deal with Iran were making progress.

Iran and those four countries plus China began the talks in Vienna last month to try to revive a 2015 nuclear agreement the U.S. abandoned three years ago.

"Sanctions … on Iran's energy sector, which include oil and gas, or those on the automotive industry, financial, banking and port sanctions, all should be lifted based on agreements reached so far," Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi was quoted as saying by Iranian state media after the latest round of the talks, which were later adjourned for six days.

Araqchi did not explain how or when the sanctions would be lifted.

When asked by Reuters for comment, the U.S. State Department referred to remarks made Friday by Jake Sullivan, U.S. national security adviser.

"We've seen willingness of all sides, including the Iranians, to talk seriously about sanctions relief restrictions and a pathway back into the JCPOA," Sullivan said, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the nuclear deal's title.

'Much work' to do

Diplomats from the five nations talking with Iran's representatives cautioned that more work was needed to reach an agreement on bringing the U.S. back into the nuclear deal.

"We have much work, and little time, left. Against that background, we would have hoped for more progress this week," senior diplomats from the so-called E3 — France, Britain and Germany — said in a statement.

But Russia’s top representative, Mikhail Ulyanov, tweeted that “indisputable progress” had been made and expressed cautious optimism a deal could be finalized soon.

“It’s [too] early to be excited, but we have reason for cautious and growing optimism. There is no deadline, but participants aim at successful completion of talks in approximately 3 weeks,” Ulyanov wrote.

The 2015 JCPOA provided Iran relief from sanctions in exchange for limits on its nuclear program.

The deal was reached in Vienna between Iran, Germany and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council: China, France, Russia, Britain and the U.S.

U.S. President Joe Biden wants to return to the deal that then-President Donald Trump withdrew from in 2018. Trump unilaterally ratcheted up sanctions on Iran as he criticized the deal for not doing enough to stop objectionable Iranian behavior. Iran retaliated a year later by exceeding the JCPOA’s nuclear activity limits.