Iran set to return to nuclear talks in November

VIENNA – Iran is ready to return to nuclear talks in Vienna before the end of November, the country’s deputy foreign minister Ali Bagheri Kani said on Wednesday after meeting EU officials in Brussels.

“Had a very serious and constructive dialogue with @enriquemora_ about the essential elements for successful negotiations,” he said wrote on Twitter, citing Enrique Mora, the EU’s chief coordinator for the talks. “We agree to start negotiations before the end of November. The exact date will be announced over the next week, ”he added.

Mora did not immediately confirm the statement, but two Western diplomatic officials said Bagheri Kani’s announcement was correct.

The development paves the way for a resumption of talks between Iran and six world powers to revive the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the nuclear deal with Iran is officially called. Negotiations have stalled since Iran elected hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi as president in June.

Iran had repeatedly stressed that it was ready to resume talks “soon” but refused to give a clear date, leaving US and European officials increasingly impatient and irritated.

“We could understand some interruption in their transition … but at this point it’s hard to come up with an explanation, an innocent explanation of why they are taking so long,” said US special envoy for Iran Robert Malley told Reporters in a press briefing earlier this week. He added that efforts to revive the agreement were in a “critical phase”.

The uncertainty led to the discussion of a “Plan B” – what to do if Iran does not come back on the table, given the rapid acceleration of Tehran’s nuclear program and the generation of scientific evidence on uranium enrichment that experts believe is irreversible .

In a research note on Wednesday, political risk advisory council Eurasia Group said that despite Iran’s willingness to resume talks in November, “a revival of the Iranian nuclear deal next year is unlikely given the rapid nuclear build-up of Iran and the maximalist demands of the Iran will likely make the 2015 consent irrelevant. “

It added that “the chances of compromise are very limited given the harsh attitudes and internal divisions of the Iranian government, as well as stronger demands from the West for new restrictions in response to Iran’s nuclear advances”.

On this point, Malley said that everyone he had spoken to over the past few weeks shared “the deep and growing concern about the pace and direction of Iranian nuclear progress, especially at a time when the US has made it clear that they are ready to come ”. again in accordance with the JCPOA. “

For its part, Iran continues to insist that its nuclear program is peaceful and that it has no intention of building a nuclear weapon.

Comments by Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian on Wednesday further dampened expectations of a smooth return to the nuclear deal. He hinted that Tehran may not be ready to resume talks where they left off in June and reiterated an Iranian call for billions of dollars’ worth of its frozen assets to be released from foreign banks.

The pessimism is a change in tone from earlier this year, when European powers, Russia, China and the EU brokered indirect talks between Iran and the US during six rounds of talks in Vienna. Both sides made progress on a step-by-step plan that saw Iran reduce its nuclear program in return for easing US sanctions.

A resumption of talks in November could coincide with a planned meeting of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear regulatory agency responsible for overseeing Iran’s nuclear facilities. The 35-member committee must decide whether Tehran should blame for its continued refusal to allow IAEA inspectors to visit certain nuclear facilities in Iran. Iran could calculate that a return to the talks in Vienna could prevent such a solution.

Most recently, Iran had refused inspectors at the end of September despite an agreement between Tehran and IAEA Director General Raphael Grossi about access to its locations. Inspectors attempted to replace surveillance equipment at the centrifuge assembly facility in Karaj, which was the target of an alleged sabotage incident in June.

To this day, it is still unclear whether IAEA inspectors managed to access the Karaj site.


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