Iran welcomes nuclear diplomacy and urges Washington to show interest

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action deal in 2015 aimed to make it harder for Iran to amass the fissile material for a nuclear weapon

Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian in Tehran, on July 20, 2022. AFP
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Iran on Wednesday welcomed diplomatic efforts to revive its 2015 nuclear pact with major powers, a day after the European Union's top diplomat proposed a new text to restore the agreement.

"Iran welcomes the continuation of diplomacy and negotiations," Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian told EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, Iranian state media reported.

"The United States always states that it wants an agreement, so this approach should be seen in the agreement and in practice," Mr Abdollahian said. It was not immediately clear what he meant.

Mr Borrell on Tuesday said he had proposed a new draft text to revive the 2015 deal under which Iran curbed its nuclear programme in return for relief from economic sanctions.

US president Donald Trump reneged on the deal in 2018 and reimposed sanctions, prompting Iran to breach the deal's nuclear limits.

The deal made it harder for Iran to amass the fissile material for a nuclear weapon, an ambition Iran has long denied, saying its atomic programme is for peaceful purposes.

On Tuesday, the US State Department said it was reviewing Mr Borrell's proposal and would respond to the EU.

Mr Borrell on Tuesday said the deal on the table reflected "the determination of all ... to ensure its sustainability, including the commitment of President Joe Biden and US assurances in this regard".

He appeared to refer to Mr Biden's commitment, described in an October 2021 White House statement, "to return the US to full compliance with the JCPOA and to stay in full compliance, so long as Iran does the same".

Separately, the White House declined to comment on an Axios report quoting White House Middle East co-ordinator Brett McGurk as saying it was "highly unlikely" that the 2015 deal will be revived in the near future.

Updated: July 28, 2022, 8:22 AM