DUBAI: Iran’s indirect talks with the US on reviving the 2015 nuclear pact will resume soon, the Iranian foreign minister said on Saturday amid a push by the EU’s top diplomat to break a months-long impasse.
“We are prepared to resume talks in the coming days. What is important for Iran is to fully receive the economic benefits of the 2015 accord,” Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said, adding that he had held a “long but positive meeting” with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.
Borrell met Iran’s top diplomat on Saturday, Iranian state TV reported, as the bloc seeks to break an impasse between Tehran and Washington over reinstating a nuclear pact.
The pact appeared close to being revived in March when the EU — which is coordinating negotiations — invited foreign ministers representing the accord’s parties to Vienna to finalize an agreement after 11 months of indirect talks between Tehran and President Joe Biden’s administration.
But the talks have since been bogged down, chiefly over Tehran’s insistence that Washington remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, its elite security force, from the US Foreign Terrorist Organization list.
“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. I am very happy about the decision that has been made in Tehran and Washington,” Borrell said in Tehran.
“We agreed on resumption of negotiations between Iran and US in the coming days, facilitated by my team, to solve the last outstanding issues,” Borrell said. “And the coming days mean coming days. I mean, quickly, immediately.”
In 2018, then-US President Donald Trump pulled out of the deal, under which Iran agreed to curbs on its nuclear program in return for relief from economic sanctions.
The US withdrawal and its reimposition of crippling sanctions prompted Iran to begin violating its core nuclear limits about a year later.
Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, which makes the decisions in the nuclear talks, told Borrell that Iran will further develop its nuclear program until the West changes its “illegal behavior.”
“Iran’s retaliatory actions in the nuclear sector are merely legal and rational responses to US unilateralism and European inaction and will continue as long as the West’s illegal practices are not changed,” Shamkhani said.
And despite the imminent resumption of talks, Borrell appeared to play down the possibility of a quick deal.
“I cannot predict ... We are pushing for it. I appreciate the goodwill from the Iranian side. There is also goodwill from the American side,” Borrell said in a news conference on an EU website.
“Talks between Iran, the US and the EU will not take place in Vienna because they will not be in the 4+1 format ... they will probably take place somewhere closer to the Arabian Gulf and more specifically in an Arabian Gulf state,” Iranian media quoted Borrell as saying.