Iran to return to nuclear deal talks next month

DUBAI – Iran’s talks with six world powers aiming to revive a 2015 nuclear deal will resume in late November, its chief nuclear negotiator said on Wednesday, as Western concerns about the Islamic Republic’s nuclear advances mount.

“We had a very serious and constructive dialogue with @enriquemora_ about the essential elements for successful negotiations. We agree to start negotiations before the end of November, ”wrote Ali Bagheri Kani on Twitter after meeting EU officials in Brussels.

“The exact date will be announced over the next week,” he added.

In April, Tehran and six powers began discussing ways to save the 2015 nuclear pact, which then-US President Donald Trump abandoned three years ago. Trump then re-imposed harsh sanctions on Iran, which has devastated its economy by curbing its oil exports.

But discussions about resuming talks have been on hold since the election of hard-line Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, who is expected to be tough if talks resume in Vienna.

Raisi, like Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, wants results-oriented talks with the aim of bringing Tehran and Washington fully back into conformity with the pact.

In response to Trump’s pressure, Tehran has gradually broken the deal by rebuilding supplies of enriched uranium, upgrading it to higher fissile purity, and installing advanced centrifuges to speed up production.

Western powers have been urging Iran to return to negotiations for months, saying that time is running out as Tehran’s nuclear program goes well beyond the limits set by the deal.

Even after six rounds of talks in Vienna, Tehran and Washington are still in disagreement about which steps must be taken and when, with the question of which nuclear borders Tehran will accept and which sanctions Washington will lift.

“America’s return to the deal doesn’t matter to us. It is important that the talks turn out in favor of Iran, ”said Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian in a televised press conference.

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He reiterated Iran’s request to release its assets frozen due to US sanctions.

President Joe Biden must “put his goodwill into action, for example by releasing $ 10 billion of Iran’s blocked assets,” said Amirabdollahian.

Iran has been unable to access tens of billions of dollars of its assets in foreign banks, mainly from oil and gas exports, due to US sanctions against its banking and energy sectors.

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