French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that Vienna’s negotiations on the Iranian nuclear file are “very slow”, warning of the danger of Tehran’s uranium enrichment capabilities.
“Discussions are ongoing, but from our point of view they are very slow,” Le Drian told the French parliament, on Tuesday, adding that this “threatens the possibility of reaching a solution that respects interests in a realistic time frame.”
The French minister indicated that some progress was made at the end of last December, “but we are still far from completing those negotiations,” he said.
Le Drian considered the matter “urgent and vital because of Iran’s actions and the course of its nuclear program,” and said that “the situation is dangerous because Iran has reached the penultimate stage” in terms of 90% uranium enrichment and nuclear capability.
The French Foreign Minister was more optimistic last Friday when he said that the negotiations are progressing “on a relatively positive track”, expressing his confidence that an agreement can be reached.
Following that statement, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said that France had changed its behavior and had stopped playing the “bad cop” role in the talks.
Iran is in talks with major world powers in Vienna to revive the 2015 agreement on its nuclear programme. The United States, which unilaterally withdrew from the agreement in 2018, is indirectly participating in the talks.
Talks resumed on January 3, and Western diplomats hoped for a breakthrough by the end of this month or early February, but sharp differences remain over the most difficult outstanding issues, and Iran rejects any deadline imposed by Western powers.
In this context, sources close to the negotiations said that matters have entered a critical juncture, and that this week will determine the course and future of the Vienna negotiations.
For its part, Tehran says that it is negotiating realistically in Vienna and is not optimistic or pessimistic about the progress of the negotiating process.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said – in a press conference last Monday – that good progress has been made in the four files being discussed, which are “lifting sanctions, the nuclear issue, verifying the lifting of sanctions, and obtaining guarantees of non-withdrawal from the nuclear agreement.” .
During the talks, Tehran stresses the priority of lifting the sanctions that Washington re-imposed on it after its withdrawal from the agreement, and obtaining guarantees that the US withdrawal will not be repeated.
On the other hand, the United States and the European parties focus on the importance of Iran’s return to fully respecting its obligations under the agreement, which it began to retract in 2019, in response to Washington’s withdrawal.