By Parisa Hafezi, Francois Murphy y John Irish
VIENNA, Dec 3 (Reuters) – Indirect talks between the United States and Iran to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal came to the brink of crisis on Friday and halted until next week, with European officials dismayed by demands from the new line government. hard of the Islamic republic.
The seventh round of talks in Vienna is the first with delegates sent by Iran’s anti-Western President Ebrahim Raisi.
His election in June sparked a five-month hiatus in the talks, raising suspicions among US and European officials that Iran is buying time as it advances its nuclear program.
The Iranian delegation, under the command of negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani, has proposed radical changes to the text negotiated in previous rounds, according to diplomats. European officials have opposed the proposed changes to a carefully drafted text that they say is 70-80% complete.
“More than five months ago, Iran broke off negotiations. Since then it has accelerated its nuclear program. This week, it has reversed the diplomatic advances made,” senior officials from France, Britain and Germany said in a statement.
“It is not clear how these new gaps can be closed in a realistic time frame,” they added.
The three European powers expressed “disappointment and concern” over Iran’s demands, some of which, they said, are inconsistent with or go beyond the terms of the agreement.
The 2015 accord imposed strict limits on Iran’s uranium enrichment activities, taking what it would need to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear bomb, if it so chose, to at least a year, from about two to three months.
Most experts say that period is now shorter than before the deal.
Iran denies it is seeking nuclear weapons and claims it only wants to master nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
In exchange for nuclear restrictions, the agreement lifted a series of international sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
However, after more than two years of Iranian adherence to major restrictions, then-President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the deal in 2018, calling it too soft on Tehran, and reimposed painful economic sanctions.
Tehran retaliated beginning in 2019 in breach of many of the agreement’s enrichment and other restrictions.
(Report by John Irish in Dubai and Parisa Hafezi in Vienna Edited in Spanish by Javier López de Lérida)