Iran says Vienna nuclear talks to resume by end of November

Iran and world powers party to the 2015 nuclear deal will return to Vienna within weeks after months of delay.

The Iranian flag waves.
The Iranian flag waves in front of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna, Austria [Leonhard Foeger/Reuters]

Tehran, Iran – Iran’s top nuclear negotiator has said multilateral talks in Vienna to restore the country’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers will resume before the end of November.

Ali Bagheri Kani, who became the new chief nuclear negotiator in mid-September, announced the news following a meeting on Wednesday with European officials in Brussels, saying the exact date will be announced next week.

Six rounds of talks with China, Russia, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom at the Austrian capital – with the United States participating indirectly – concluded in late June to allow the administration of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi to take form.

The US, which unilaterally abandoned the nuclear deal – formally known the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – in 2018 and imposed sanctions on Iran, has been saying for weeks that the window to return to the talks won’t remain open forever as Iranian officials said they will come back “soon”.

But the Raisi administration has been signalling that it may not wish to resume the talks exactly where they left off during the administration of former President Hassan Rouhani.

The clearest message yet came on Wednesday, just before Bagheri announced the news, when Foreign Minister Amirabdollahian said “we don’t want to enter the Vienna negotiations from the deadlock point of the Vienna negotiations”.

Speaking at a press conference in Tehran after hosting a conference of Afghanistan’s neighbours, he added, however, that Iran accepts the overall format of the talks.

Russia’s top negotiator in Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov, had said in a tweet earlier this month that it is very important “not to resume the Vienna talks on JCPOA from scratch”.

Another issue is that Iran continues to push for guarantees that the US and European powers – who complied with US sanctions – won’t renege on their commitments in the future.

There was also some controversy over in what format Iranian officials wanted to meet with their European counterparts prior to the Vienna negotiations.

The three European powers party to the JCPOA offered to meet as a group after talks with EU’s Enrique Mora in Tehran earlier this month were successful, but Iran refused.

The Iranian foreign minister on Wednesday called the joint meeting “disagreeable” especially as the E3 usually release a shared statement after, which he said contains only their unilateral viewpoints.

“Whether in Brussels or in Tehran, we support any bilateral diplomatic talks with Germany, UK and France. But on the nuclear issue, we only consider talks with them in the format of P4+1, which also includes Russia and China as our  other negotiating sides,” Amirabdollahian said.

Source: Al Jazeera