Iran Nuclear Talks Adjourn Again With No Deal Reached, Might Resume Before Year's End

The Iran nuclear talks between world leaders in Vienna adjourned Friday without reaching a deal, but they hope to resume the discussion before the end of the year.

The Iran nuclear talks are aimed at restoring the 2015 nuclear agreement, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOCA). The discussion came to an end Friday after the Iranian negotiator, Ali Bagheri Kani, returned to ​​Tehran for consultations.

European diplomats said they are disappointed by the pause. Wan Qun, China's chief negotiator, said she is anticipating the talks "will resume hopefully before the end of the year."

Regardless of the delays, there has been some progress with the negotiations. Iran agreed Wednesday to reinstall damaged cameras at an Iranian site that manufactures centrifuge parts as part of a deal with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

However, the negotiators from Britain, France and Germany are frustrated about the progression of the recent talks.

"There has been some technical progress in the last 24 hours, but this only takes us back nearer to where the talks stood in June," they said.

The three nations also said the other countries in the negotiations are ready to continue the talks as "this negotiation is becoming ever more urgent."

 Enrique Mora, Iran Nuclear Deal
The Iran nuclear talks between world leaders in Vienna adjourned Friday without reaching a deal, but they hope to resume the discussion before the end of the year. Above, Enrique Mora, deputy secretary general of the European External Action Service, speaks to journalists after a meeting of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in Vienna on December 17, 2021. Alex Halada/ AFP/Getty Images

Diplomats from the three European nations said earlier this week that they were "losing precious time dealing with new Iranian positions inconsistent with the JCPOA or that go beyond it."

Following the U.S. decision to withdraw from the deal and reimpose sanctions on Iran, Tehran has ramped up its nuclear program again by enriching uranium well beyond the thresholds allowed in the agreement. Iran has also restricted monitors from the U.N. atomic watchdog from accessing its nuclear facilities, raising concerns about what the country is doing out of view.

Iran's nuclear program "is now more advanced than it has ever been," making it critical that Tehran refrain from taking further steps that escalate the situation, they said.

The United States has participated indirectly in the ongoing talks because it withdrew from the accord in 2018 under then-President Donald Trump. President Joe Biden has signaled that he wants to rejoin the deal.

Still, there was one sign of progress on a related issue when Iran agreed to reinstall cameras though inspectors remain limited on what footage they can access.

"We hope that Iran is in a position to resume the talks quickly, and to engage constructively so that talks can move at a faster pace," the European negotiators said.

"As we have said, there are weeks not months before the JCPOA's core non-proliferation benefits are lost," they added. "We are rapidly reaching the end of the road for this negotiation."

"For the eighth round, we have a lot of work ahead, a very complex task, I have to say," said Enrique Mora, the European Union diplomat who chaired the talks. "Difficult political decisions have to be taken."

The accord was meant to rein in Iran's nuclear program in return for loosened economic sanctions. Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China are still part of the agreement.

Russia's delegate to the talks, Mikhail Ulyanov, said the latest round has set a "sound basis for more intensive negotiations."

"The negotiators now much better understand each other," Ulyanov wrote on Twitter.

There was also a short break last week as delegations returned home to consult with their governments.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Iran Flag, Nuclear Deals
The Iran nuclear talks between world leaders in Vienna adjourned Friday without reaching a deal, but they hope to resume the discussion before the end of the year. Above, the Iranian flag waves in front of the the International Center building with the headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, Austria, on May 24, 2021. Florian Schroetter/AP Photo