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‘Not enough progress’ in Vienna talks on salvaging Iran nuclear deal

Iran’s deputy foreign minister says progress has been made in Vienna talks aimed at saving the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers but the demands of the Islamic Republic are yet to be met.

“It was a step forward, but it is still not enough and not meeting Iran’s expectations,” Abbas Araqchi told reporters on Friday after almost four hours of talks with senior diplomats from Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia, Press TV reported.

On Friday, the remaining signatories of the nuclear agreement met in the Austrian capital as a last-ditch effort to save the accord after the US withdrew last year.

Referring to Iran’s decision to go over the deal’s core atomic restrictions, Araqchi said, “The decision to reduce our commitments has already been made in Iran and we continue on that process unless our expectations are met.”

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

‘INSTEX operational’

Araqchi said the Europeans have confirmed that the planned INSTEX trade mechanism is now “operational” and the first transactions are already processed.

However, the Iranian official added that this was still insufficient because European countries were not buying Iranian oil.

“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.

The trade mechanism was established last year after the US’ withdrawal from the JCPOA.

France, Germany and Britain had been tinkering with INSTEX for months without making it operational, leaving Iran wondering whether they are serious about the idea.

A European diplomat has confirmed that the direct non-dollar payment mechanism was now operational but France, Britain and Germany, known as 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 to continue to import Iranian oil

China has rejected the imposition of unilateral US sanctions on Iran, saying it would import Iranian oil in defiance of Washington’s bans on Tehran.

“We reject the unilateral imposition of sanctions,” said Fu Cong, the director general of the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Department of Arms Control, on Friday.

Cong made the remarks a day before US and Chinese leaders are to meet on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Japan in an attempt to resolve trade disputes.

“For us energy security is important and the importation of oil is important to Chinese energy security and also to the livelihood of the people,” said Cong.