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Iran nuclear deal: Time is running out, Germany says

German foreign minister says Iran has resumed talks taking a position that has set the negotiations back six months
Iran's president Ebrahim Raisi (L) on a visit to the Bushehr nuclear power plant, southeast of the city of the same name, Iran, 8 October 2021 (AFP)

Germany's foreign minister warned on Saturday that time was running out to find a way to revive the 2015 nuclear deal between world powers and Iran, speaking after meetings with her counterparts from G7 countries.

Talks have resumed in Vienna to try to revive the nuclear pact, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), with both sides trying to gauge the prospects of success after the latest exchanges in the stop-start negotiations.

"Time is running out," German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock told reporters in Liverpool, England, where G7 foreign ministers are meeting, according to Reuters.

"It has shown in the last days that we do not have any progress."

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Baerbock said Iran had resumed the talks taking a position that has set the negotiations back six months. The current round of talks in Vienna follows a pause of five months after the election of a hardline anti-westerner as Iran's president, Ebrahim Raisi.

Earlier, US officials said that Secretary of State Antony Blinken had held a "productive" meeting with counterparts from Britain, Germany and France on Friday, discussing the way forward for the Iran talks.

A senior State Department official said there was an "intense" conversation among the G7 countries, which were united in their position on the nuclear talks.

"The statement will also be strong on the importance of getting Iran back to the table and that it is possible to conclude a deal but that the time is shrinking, so we're united in that," the official, briefing reporters on the condition of anonymity, said.

The official added that US Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley was heading back to Vienna for talks.

Iranian officials have previously said they were sticking to their tough stance.

Under the original nuclear deal, abandoned in 2018 by then-President Donald Trump, Iran limited its nuclear programme in return for relief from US, European Union and UN sanctions. The West fears the programme would be used to develop weapons, something Tehran denies.

Raisi said on Saturday that Tehran was serious in its nuclear talks in Vienna, the official IRNA news agency reported.

The indirect US-Iranian talks, in which diplomats from France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China shuttle between them because Tehran refuses direct contact with Washington, aim to get both sides to resume full compliance with the accord.

The G7 meeting is expected to result in a joint call for Iran to moderate its nuclear programme and grasp the opportunity of the Vienna talks.

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