Iran says progress at nuclear deal talks not enough to change course

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Progress was made at talks on Friday aimed at saving the Iran nuclear deal but probably not enough to convince the Islamic Republic to change its decision to go over the deal’s core atomic restrictions one by one, Iran’s envoy to the talks said.

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi was speaking after almost four hours of talks with senior diplomats from Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia.

“It was a step forward, but it is still not enough and not meeting Iran’s expectations,” Araqchi told reporters.

“I don’t think the progress made today will be enough to stop our process but the decision will made in Tehran.”

He said the Europeans had told the meeting that the Instex trade mechanism had been made operational, with the first transactions already processed, but that this was still insufficient because European countries were not buying Iranian oil, the key demand for it to stay in the 2015 nuclear deal.

“For Instex to be useful for Iran, Europeans need to buy oil or consider credit lines for this mechanism otherwise Instex is not like they or us expect,” he said.

Instex had now been widened to include more European countries beyond France, Britain and Germany, known as the E3, Araqchi said.

A European diplomat confirmed that the mechanism was now operational but the E3 have yet to make an official announcement.

In a joint statement earlier on Friday, Austria, Belgium, Finland, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden, said they were working with the E3 to develop trade mechanisms.

Araqchi said all the parties in Vienna had agreed to hold a ministerial meeting “very soon”.

China guarded on buying Iranian oil

China’s envoy to the talks was guarded when asked if his country was willing to defy US sanctions and buy Iranian oil but said his country rejects those sanctions.

“We reject the unilateral imposition of sanctions and for us energy security is important,” Fu Cong, director-general of the Department of Arms Control of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, told reporters after the talks.

“We do not accept this zero policy of the United States,” he said when asked if China would buy Iranian oil.

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