BRUSSELS (AP) – Iran and major world powers involved in the agreement to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons said on Friday they were ready to welcome the US return to the deal.
The group – the European Union, China, France, Germany, Russia, Britain and Iran – “recognized the prospect of a full US return to the JCPOA and stressed its readiness to deal with it positively in a joint effort,” a senior meeting chairman said. Recalling the acronym of the Nuclear Agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan.
Participants stated that they “emphasized their commitment to maintain the JCPOA and discussed modalities to ensure a return to full and effective implementation,”
The group said it would resume further talks on Tuesday in Vienna on the 2015 agreement, “in order to clearly identify the lifting of sanctions and nuclear enforcement measures”.
U.S. officials did not have immediate public comment, but Washington welcomed the news Thursday that Europeans would meet with Iranians to try to resume talks. State Department spokesman Ned Price called the development a “positive step.”
President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the nuclear deal with Iran in 2018, and President Joe Biden said re-joining the agreement is a priority for his administration. The Biden administration and Iran agree on all sorts of conditions for this to happen, including the timing of the lifting of US sanctions against Iran.
The EU president’s statement on Friday said the group’s co-ordinator would “strengthen individual contacts in Vienna” with all participants in the nuclear deal and the United States.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif immediately stressed that no meeting between Iranian and US officials is planned
In a tweet, Zarif said that the goal of the session in Vienna would be “the rapid finalization of the lifting of sanctions and nuclear measures for the choreographic lifting of all sanctions, followed by the cessation of corrective measures by Iran.”
He added as a good measure: “There is no meeting between Iran and the United States. Unnecessary.”
Iranian state television quoted Abbas Arachi, Iran’s nuclear negotiator at the virtual meeting, as saying during Friday’s discussion that “any return of the United States to the nuclear deal does not require any negotiations and the path is clear.”
“The United States can return to the deal and stop breaking the law in the same way it withdrew from the deal and imposed illegal sanctions on Iran,” Aragci said.
Russia’s ambassador to international organizations in Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov, said: “The impression is that we are on the right track, but the road ahead will not be easy and will require intensive efforts. It seems that the stakeholders are ready for that.”
Any return to the United States would lead to complications.
Iran is constantly violating the restrictions of the deal, such as the amount of enriched uranium it can store and the purity with which it can enrich it. Tehran’s moves were calculated to put pressure on other countries in the deal – Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain – to do more to offset the crippling sanctions imposed under Trump.
Iran has said that before resuming compliance with the deal, the United States must return to its own obligations under the deal by lifting sanctions.
The International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran had accumulated a lot of nuclear material and new capabilities over the past two years and used the time to “improve its skills in these areas.”
The ultimate goal of the deal is to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb, something he insists he does not want to do. Iran now has enough enriched uranium to make a bomb, but it is not close to the amount it had before the nuclear deal was signed.
As part of its ongoing JCPOA violations, Iran last month began restricting IAEA inspections of its nuclear facilities. However, according to a last-minute deal made during a trip to Tehran, some access was retained.
Under the interim agreement, Iran will no longer share surveillance footage of its nuclear facilities with the IAEA, but has promised to keep the tapes for three months. It will then hand them over to the Vienna-based UN nuclear surveillance if released from sanctions. Otherwise, Iran has vowed to delete the tapes, narrowing the window to a diplomatic breakthrough.