Iran has said it will resume multilateral talks on November 29 in Austria’s capital, Vienna, aimed at reviving the country’s nuclear deal with world powers.
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani, who became Tehran’s chief negotiator in mid-September, said on Wednesday the date was set in a phone call with European Union mediator Enrique Mora.
“We agreed to start the negotiations aiming at removal of unlawful and inhumane sanctions on 29 November in Vienna,” Bagheri said on Twitter, referring to the measures the United States has imposed on Iran since its unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal – formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan for Action (JCPOA) in May 2018.
In a phone call with @enriquemora_ , we agreed to start the negotiations aiming at removal of unlawful & inhumane sanctions on 29 November in Vienna.
— علی باقریکنی (@Bagheri_Kani) November 3, 2021
Six rounds of talks with the remaining parties to the deal – China, Russia, Germany, France and the United Kingdom – in Vienna, with the US participating indirectly, concluded in late June to allow the administration of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi to take form.
The European Union also confirmed the news about the resumption of talks and said the negotiations would be chaired by Mora on behalf of EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.
“Participants will 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,” said the EU’s European External Action Service in a statement, which added that the remaining JCPOA signatories would be represented.
In April, Tehran and six powers started to discuss ways to salvage the nuclear pact, which has eroded since 2018 when then-President Donald Trump withdrew the US from it and reimposed punishing sanctions on Iran, prompting Tehran to breach various limits on uranium enrichment set by the pact.
But the talks have been on hold since the election of Raisi, whose administrations is expected to take a tough approach when the talks resume.
For its part, the US said it could reach an agreement quickly if Iran was “serious” as it announced the resumption of indirect negotiations.
“We believe it remains possible to quickly reach and implement an understanding on a mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA by closing the relatively small number of issues that remained outstanding at the end of June when the sixth round concluded.”
“We believe that if the Iranians are serious, we can manage to do that in relatively short order,” Department of State spokesman Ned Price told reporters. “But we’ve also been clear including as this pause has dragged on for some time, that this window of opportunity will not be open forever.”
But the Raisi administration has previously signalled that it may not wish to resume the talks exactly where they left off during the administration of former President Hassan Rouhani.
Late last month, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said, “We don’t want to enter the Vienna negotiations from the deadlock point of the Vienna negotiations”.
Russia’s top negotiator in Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov, had said in a tweet earlier in October that it was very important “not to resume the Vienna talks on JCPOA from scratch”.
Abas Aslani, senior research fellow at the Center for Middle East Strategic Studies, a think tank, said resuming the talks is a welcome sign for advocates of the deal, but the negotiations will face major challenges, including disagreements on the scope of sanction relief.
Tehran wants all sanctions imposed by the Trump administration to be lifted, including measures not directly related to the nuclear file.
“Beginning the process can somehow give hope for reviving the nuclear deal. However, there will be differences ahead,” Aslani told Al Jazeera.