The return of the United States to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal becomes clear, with the arrival in Vienna next Tuesday of an American delegation “open to direct talks” with Iran on the sidelines of a meeting of the signatory countries organized by the European Union.
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US diplomacy spokesman Ned Price said that the US government had “agreed to participate in talks” with Europeans, Russians and Chinese to discuss “mutual return” of the agreement between Washington and Tehran.
“We do not expect direct talks between the United States and Iran at this stage of the process, but the United States remains open to this possibility,” he said.
The process was developed on Friday during a videoconference between representatives from China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and Iran.
The meeting was chaired by the Spanish Enrique Mora, a close collaborator of the Head of EU diplomacy Josep Borrell who coordinates the work of the Joint Committee of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that concluded in the summer of 2015.
All participants agreed to the presence of an American delegation on Tuesday in Vienna, but Iran clarified the limits of the exercise by refusing any contact with the Americans.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned that “there will be no meeting between Iran and the United States.”
“The Iranian delegation will not negotiate at any level with the American delegation,” said Abbas Araghchi, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister.
“The United States will not attend any meeting in which Iran will participate, including the meeting of the Joint Nuclear Agreement Committee,” he added.
These limits were confirmed by a European representative: “The United States will not participate in any of the meetings next Tuesday, because it did not go to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.”
Two processes will be launched during the meeting in Vienna, which will be held, such as Friday, at the level of political directors of the signatory countries, but this time “face to face”.
“There is no time to waste”
Two working groups will work on the practicalities of lifting sanctions and Iran’s return to full implementation of its nuclear obligations.
At the same time, discussions will take place between the United States and Iran through Josep Borrell and his team.
The European representative commented: “The problem is how to get there.” The goal is to agree on the return of the United States in the next two months before the presidential elections in Iran.
“If that fails, it will be very bad news,” he said.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas insisted: “We have no time to waste.”
Russian actor Mikhail Ulyanov commented, “There is a feeling that we are on the right path, but the way forward will not be easy and will require intense efforts.” “It looks like the stakeholders are ready for that.”
“It is a matter of political will and this was noted during the meeting on Friday,” the European representative estimated.
The United States withdrew Donald Trump (2017-2021) from the agreement unilaterally three years ago. New US President Joe Biden has said he is ready to join him again, but on the condition that Tehran first revert to respecting the commitments that he began to break with in response to the sanctions imposed by Donald Trump in 2018.
Iran, for its part, is ready to return to full compliance with this text, on the condition that Washington first lift the sanctions that stifle its economy.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that Iran signed in Vienna in July 2015 aims to prevent the Islamic Republic from obtaining the atomic bomb. Its nuclear program, which is supposed to remain exclusively civilian and peaceful, has been severely restricted.
In return, the international community lifted all its economic sanctions on Iran.