The United States expressed its willingness to lift most sanctions on Iran as negotiations to revive the nuclear agreement in Vienna entered its final phase, but at the same time warned that the talks could fail, and that Tehran is close to possessing a sufficient stockpile for a nuclear bomb.

In an interview with the US news network MSNBC, the US special envoy to Iran, Robert Malley, said that his country intends to maintain some sanctions on Iran, although it will lift most of them.

Mali added that his country is ready to lift the sanctions re-imposed by the administration of former President Donald Trump on Iran, which contradict the 2015 nuclear agreement between Tehran and major powers.

But he pointed out that some of the sanctions imposed by the Trump administration and that Tehran wants to lift have nothing to do with the nuclear agreement, but rather with its behavior, explaining that his country has requirements regarding what it means for Iran to return to compliance with the nuclear agreement, adding that an understanding has not yet been reached in this regard.

Mali confirmed that the US delegation will return to Vienna next week, warning that it will soon reach the point where the attempt to return to the nuclear agreement will be resurrecting the dead, as he put it.

He also said that Iran is a few weeks away from obtaining enough enriched uranium to produce a nuclear bomb, noting that his country will use all the tools it has to pressure Iran if it chooses a different path, to make sure that it cannot obtain a nuclear bomb.

The US special envoy to Iran also indicated that the administration of President Joe Biden is working closely with Israel on the Iranian nuclear file, and he spoke of a difference of views between the two sides.

Mali's statements come at a time when the parties participating in the Vienna talks confirmed progress after 8 rounds of indirect negotiations.

While Tehran confirmed that the atmosphere is now ready for the agreement, Washington stresses that there are still outstanding issues that impede a mutual return to the nuclear agreement, which the Trump administration withdrew from in 2018, in response to Tehran's curtailment of its obligations.


American move

In what was described as an American initiative towards Iran, albeit just a technical step, the United States on Friday restored Tehran's exemption from sanctions as the Vienna talks entered the final stage.

A senior US State Department official said this exemption was necessary to allow the technical discussions that are necessary for talks aimed at returning to the 2015 agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

The State Department has sent a report signed by Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to Congress explaining that reinstating the exemption will help talks in Vienna on returning to the agreement.

The report - a copy of which was seen by Reuters - said that the exemption related to these activities aims to facilitate discussions that would help conclude an agreement on a mutual return to the full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and lay the foundation for Iran's return to performing its obligations under the nuclear agreement.

The US report added, "The waiver also aims to serve the interests of the United States in security, non-proliferation and imposing restrictions on Iran's nuclear activities."

This exemption allowed Russian, Chinese and European companies to carry out non-proliferation operations at Iranian nuclear sites.

The United States canceled this exemption in 2019 and 2020 during the administration of former President Trump, who withdrew from the nuclear agreement.


Consultations with the Gulf

In this context, Daniel Benaim, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Arabian Peninsula Affairs, said that Mali had made contacts with officials in all the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, informing them about the nuclear talks in Vienna, and consulting with them about what might happen if the diplomatic track failed. in Vienna.

Benaim added - in an interview with Al Jazeera - that he was part of that dialogue, which he described as serious and reflecting the depth of partnership and respect.

He revealed that Mali went to the Gulf twice last fall, visited Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar and the headquarters of the Gulf Cooperation Council, and held talks with all the GCC countries over a period of two days.

The Qatari Foreign Minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani, said that his country is working to bring the views of the Iranian nuclear negotiations closer.

The Vienna negotiations began last April in an effort to revive the nuclear agreement, and after being suspended for about 5 months, starting in June, they were resumed in late November 2021.

Tehran stresses the priority of fully lifting the sanctions that Washington re-imposed on it after the latter's withdrawal from the agreement, and obtaining guarantees that this withdrawal will not be repeated.

On the other hand, the United States and European powers are focusing on the importance of Iran's return to fully respecting its commitments under the agreement, which it began to retract in 2019 in response to Washington's unilateral withdrawal.

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