Iran Nuclear Talks Make 'Progress' In Vienna

Talks on Iran's contentious nuclear program have reportedly made progress, despite Tehran's announcement that it was increasing uranium-enrichment levels closer to weapons-grade levels.

The April 17 discussions, the second round of talks aimed at salvaging the Iran nuclear accord abandoned by the United States in 2018, were held in Vienna without the presence of a U.S. delegation because Tehran has refused face-to-face talks with Washington.

The talks were chaired by the European Union, which carried out shuttle diplomacy with U.S. negotiators located in a nearby hotel.

China, Russia, France, Britain, Germany, and Iran remain parties to the accord, which offered Iran sanctions relief in exchange for limits on the country's nuclear program. However, since the U.S. withdrawal from the deal, Iran has consistently breached restrictions imposed under the 2015 deal.

"Progress has been made in a far-from-easy task. We need now more detailed work," European Union envoy Enrique Mora said after the April 17 talks.

Chinese envoy Wang Qun said that "all parties have agreed to further pick up their pace in subsequent days by engaging [in] more extensive, substantive work on sanctions-lifting, as well as other relevant issues."

The talks have been complicated by Iran's recent announcement that it was enriching uranium to 60 percent, up from the 20 percent it had achieved previously.

The announcement came after an attack on its Natanz nuclear facility, which Tehran blamed on Israel.

U.S. President Joe Biden has called Iran's decision to increase uranium enrichment unhelpful, but has said the United States is “pleased” that Iran is still participating in indirect talks with Washington aimed at getting both countries back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters

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