Longstanding efforts to resurrect the agreement stalled after the June election of hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi to Iran’s presidency © AP
Iran will resume stalled talks with global powers aimed at reviving the country’s ailing nuclear deal on November 29, as concerns grow over the scale of Tehran’s atomic activity.
Representatives from China, France, Germany, Russia and the UK will convene with Iran at a Vienna meeting chaired by the EU, Tehran and Brussels said on Wednesday, in a bid to salvage diplomatic negotiations over the pact and find a way for the US to rejoin the agreement.
Tehran said last month that it was prepared to restart the international talks. Restoring the 2015 JCPOA nuclear accord with Washington’s involvement and a reduction in Iran’s atomic activity to levels outlined in the original pact could result in the lifting of many sanctions against the Islamic republic.
Longstanding diplomatic efforts to resurrect the agreement, brokered by Brussels and the European states involved, stalled after the June election of hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi to Iran’s presidency.
Those talks took place in the final months of the administration of former president Hassan Rouhani, a pragmatist who was one of the key architects of the accord.
But after Raisi’s election victory hardliners who have been critical of the deal and wary of engagement with the west now control all arms of the Islamic state.
“In a phone call with [senior EU diplomat] Enrique Mora, we agreed to start the negotiations aiming at removal of unlawful & inhumane sanctions on 29 November in Vienna,” Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Ali Bagheri Kani, wrote on Twitter.
The meeting was confirmed by the EU, which said in a statement that Mora, deputy secretary-general of the European External Action Service, the bloc’s diplomatic arm, would chair talks to “continue the discussions on the prospect of a possible return of the United States to the JCPOA and how to ensure the full and effective implementation of the agreement by all sides”.
Ned Price, state department spokesperson, said Washington’s Iran special envoy, Rob Malley, would go to Vienna for the talks, even though the US is not expected to participate directly in them, and that the US hoped Iran would be ready to negotiate “quickly and in good faith”. Recommended The FT ViewThe editorial board Avoiding the next nuclear arms race
“We’ve been very clear that the talks if they are to succeed, if we are to close the remaining areas of disagreement, they should start precisely where the sixth round of talks left off,” said Price, adding “tremendous progress” had been achieved in the first six rounds of talks in Vienna.
The 2015 deal was crippled by the decision of Donald Trump when US president to withdraw unilaterally from the past in 2018 and impose sweeping sanctions on Tehran. Joe Biden entered office offering to rejoin the deal if Iran came into full compliance with the agreement, but Iranian officials have insisted that sanctions must be lifted before it cuts back its nuclear activity.
Western governments are increasingly concerned over the sharp rise in Iran’s nuclear activity and research levels over the past two years.
The IAEA, the UN’s atomic regulator, said last month Tehran would have enough material for a nuclear weapon “within a few months”. Iran insists its nuclear programme is for civilian purposes and it has no military intentions.