The European Union (EU) and Iran announced Saturday that stalled nuclear talks would resume “in the coming days”, following a surprise visit to Tehran by the bloc’s foreign police chief.
Head of EU diplomacy Josep Borrel, who has pushed to break the diplomatic deadlock, made the announcement with the Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian at a press conference in the Iranian capital.
Talks between Iran and the major powers – Russia, United States, China, France, United Kingdom and Germany – over Tehran’s nuclear programme have stagnated since March.
A key obstacle to the discussions has been tension between US and Iranian officials, with each side blaming the other for the stalemate.
The purpose of the talks is to revive the 2015 JCPOA pact, which placed limitations on Iran’s nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.
In 2018, then-US President Donald Trump pulled out of the deal and reimposed crippling sanctions on the country, despite broad Iranian compliance to its terms.
Since then, Iran has reigned on a number of aspects of the deal, putting it into conflict with the US.
Concluded by Iran and the six powers, the JCPOA aims to guarantee the civilian nature of Tehran’s nuclear program, in exchange for a gradual lifting of sanctions that have suffocated the Iranian economy.
Iran has been accused of developing nuclear technology for atomic weapons – something it denies, insisting the technology is primarily for peaceful purposes.
“We are prepared to resume talks in the coming days,” said Amir-Abdollahian. “What is important for Iran is to fully receive the economic benefits of the 2015 accord,” describing Saturday’s meeting as “long but positive”.
The JCPOA appeared close to being revived in March, following 11 months of indirect talks between Tehran and the US under President Joe Biden, with the EU acting as a go-between.
But they became bogged down over Tehran’s insistence that Washington removes the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from the US Foreign Terrorist Organisation, according to Reuters news agency.
The IRGC is an elite security force in Iran, which has huge political influence and controls large sections of the country’s economy.
“We are expected to resume talks in the coming days and break the impasse. It has been three months and we need to accelerate the work,” said Borrell.
“I am very happy about the decision that has been made in Tehran and Washington,”
“We will resume discussions on the JCPOA in the coming days,” he added. “And when I say in the next few days I mean quickly and immediately”.