Iran and EU agree to resume nuclear deal talks during Borrell visit

by Barbara R. Abercrombie
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Indirect talks between Iran and the US will resume after the EU’s foreign policy chief visits Tehran to break the deadlock.

Tehran, Iran – Iran and the European Union agreed during a visit by the bloc’s foreign policy chief to resume nuclear talks with the United States, which have stalled since March.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and Josep Borrell announced at a news conference after a “long but positive” talk on Saturday that they have agreed to end indirect negotiations between Tehran and Washington to restore their 2015 nuclear deal. I will resume in a few days.

Amirabdollahian told reporters that the most important thing for Iran is to enjoy the full economic benefits it promised under the original deal.

“Whatever Problem That May” [negatively] impact Iran’s economic benefits will not be pleasant” for Iran and the government of President Ebrahim Raisi, he said.

“We especially hope that this time the US side will take realistic and fair committed and responsible actions to reach the last point of an agreement.”

Borrell also welcomed the resumption of talks and said a restored nuclear deal would benefit the region and the world.

He also said he would like to return to Iran, presumably when US sanctions are lifted, to discuss further the “great potential” of expanding trade and energy relations between Iran and the EU.

The restart of talks will focus on “solving the last unresolved issues,” he said in a series of tweets after the press conference, without elaborating further.

Borrell and his deputy Enrique Mora arrived in Tehran late Friday and met Amirabdollahian and chief negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani on Saturday. Borrell was also set to meet with Iranian security chief Ali Shamkhani later on Saturday.

nuclear deal

Iran and the US — unilaterally withdrew from the accord in 2018 under then-President Donald Trump and imposed severe sanctions — were at an impasse over how the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — as the nuclear deal is formally called — revived to blow in. since March.

As the question of whether the designation of a “foreign terrorist organization” in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) will be lifted remains a key sticking point, both sides have continued publicly calling on each other to make concessions.

Amirabdollahian announced last week that Iran had proposed a new US proposal to move the negotiations forward. Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh did not provide details but said the new offer had been conveyed through the EU and two foreign ministers he did not name.

Borrell and Mora’s visit comes days after they met Robert Malley, the US special envoy to Iran, in which Malley “reiterated that the US was determined to backtrack on the deal,” Mora tweeted.

France, one of the signatories to the JCPOA, on Friday urged Iran to take advantage of the EU leaders’ visit and conclude talks now “while it is still possible”.

The US and its European allies that signed the deal — France, Germany, and the United Kingdom — submitted a resolution earlier this month to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) board of directors to reprimand Iran over its nuclear advances, which was adopted.

Shortly after, Iran shot down 27 IAEA surveillance cameras subject to the JCPOA and began installing advanced IR-6 centrifuges at its Natanz and Fordow sites, saying it would not bow to pressure.

IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi has warned the move threatens the continuity of the agency’s knowledge and could deal a “fatal blow” to attempts to revive the JCPOA if not remedied.

Grossi’s request to visit Tehran to discuss the monitoring issue has not been granted.

Iran now enriches uranium to 60 percent purity but insists it will never look for a nuclear weapon.

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