WASHINGTON/LONDON: US Special Envoy for Iran Rob Malley plans to travel to Vienna over the weekend for fresh talks on reviving Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with major powers, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Wednesday.
The talks seek to find a way for the US and Iran to resume compliance with the agreement, under which Iran restricted its nuclear program in return for relief from US, European Union and UN sanctions.
Then-President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the deal in 2018 and reimposed US sanctions, prompting Iran to start violating the nuclear restrictions about a year later. Iran struck the original deal with six major powers: Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the US.
Enrique Mora, the senior European Union official chairing the talks, said on Twitter that they would resume on Thursday.
The talks have effectively been indirect negotiations between Iran and the US, with diplomats from other nations shuttling between them because Tehran has refused face-to-face meetings with US officials.
Noting the EU statement that talks resume on Thursday, the State Department spokesman told reporters: “We understand that there will be a day of meetings before the heads of delegations need to attend ... so Special Envoy Malley and his inter-agency delegation will plan to join the talks over the weekend.”
Malley said he had another constructive conversation with GCC partners a day earlier.
“We remain united in our call for a rapid return to mutual JCPOA (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) compliance,” he said, adding: “This is the best avenue to strengthen regional economic ties and avoid nuclear crisis.”
Had another constructive conversation with GCC partners yesterday. We remain united in our call for a rapid return to mutual JCPOA compliance. This is the best avenue to strengthen regional economic ties and avoid nuclear crisis. We will remain in close consultation.
— Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley (@USEnvoyIran) December 8, 2021
Meanwhile, British foreign secretary Liz Truss urged Iran on Wednesday to sign up to the 2015 nuclear deal, saying it was “the last chance” to do, just a day before talks were expected to resume.
“This is really the last chance for Iran to sign up and I strongly urge them to do that because we are determined to work with our allies to prevent Iran securing nuclear weapons,” she told the Chatham House think tank.
“So they do need to sign up to the JCPOA agreement, it’s in their interests to do so.”