A seventh round of talks between five international powers and Iran began early on Monday afternoon in Vienna, amid doubts about the imminent concrete success of the negotiations.

The question is whether a return to the JCPOA nuclear agreement of 2015 is possible, from which the United States withdrew in 2018 and is subsequently no longer adhered to by Iran.

Since the new American President Joe Biden has declared that he wants to return to the JCPOA, it has been discussed since April.

But since the change of political leadership in Tehran in June, talks have been idle.

Before this round, Western representatives were not even sure whether or to what extent the current state of negotiations still applies.

Stephan Löwenstein

Political correspondent based in Vienna.

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At the table in the “Palais Coburg” hotel, where the JCPOA was negotiated six years ago, Russia, China, Germany, France and Great Britain sit across from the negotiators of the new Iranian government, led by top EU diplomat Enrique Mora. The format is provided for in the agreement, which is why the Americans who have dropped out do not sit at the table, but are informed about the process by the other parties. This form of “proxy negotiation” has proven to be cumbersome and time-consuming.

Representatives of the “European 3” appearing as a group expressed concern before the talks began: Iran now has such an amount of highly enriched uranium that the material would be sufficient for the construction of a nuclear weapon within a short period of time. There is also concern that Iran is working less and less with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The head of the Vienna-based UN agency, Rafael Grossi, had reported harassment against IAEA inspectors in a recent report, as well as promises not kept by Iran and the refusal to provide information, which Tehran is already obliged to provide under the non-proliferation treaty.

EU chief diplomat Mora wrote on Twitter on Monday morning about "intensive preparatory work".

He spoke to the Iranian delegation leader Ali Bagheri Kani and the representatives of China and Russia on Sunday.

Meetings with representatives of the European contracting parties and the United States were planned for Monday morning.

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