VIENNA (AP) – Delegations from Russia and the United States involved in nuclear negotiations with Iran held talks in Vienna on Monday, two days before a summit meeting between US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The United States is not directly involved in the Vienna negotiations, but maintains regular contact with participating diplomats.
Efforts to revive a 2015 nuclear containment deal for Iran are a rare subject of collaboration between the two global adversaries.
Mikhail Ulyanov, a senior diplomat who led the Russian delegation at the meeting in Vienna, called the talks with his US counterparts “fruitful.”
“Our dialogue in Vienna seems to be proof that the two countries can maintain business cooperation on issues of common concern, non-proliferation in this particular case,” Ulyanov wrote in a tweet.
The nuclear deal was spoiled in 2018 when the Trump administration pulled the United States out of the deal, arguing that it gave Iran too many concessions.
Diplomats from China, Germany, France, Russia and the United Kingdom held joint talks with Iran on Saturday and multiple bilateral meetings thereafter at a hotel in the center of the Austrian capital.
Matthew Rojansky, director of the Kennan Institute at the Wilson Center in Washington, said Russia was willing to curb some of Iran’s ambitions.
“Moscow still prefers to see Tehran stopped in its aspiration to develop a weapon, but it is much less motivated when it comes to controlling Iran’s regional ambitions and its broader global misbehavior,” he told the AP.
“At the same time, Russia has a balancing act to perform in Syria, where Iran’s weapons force on the ground could become a problem for Russian ambitions.”
The 2015 agreement was designed to keep Iran’s nuclear program in peace, imposing strict controls on the levels of uranium enrichment, as well as the technology and facilities used for the process.
Iran stopped respecting those limits after the US withdrawal, but insists it has no plans to build nuclear weapons, a claim that the US and its Western allies dispute. ___
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