Iraq pushes for resumption of Iran nuclear talks

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian is on an official state visit to Baghdad

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian with Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein in Baghdad.  Reuters
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Iraq is pushing for the resumption of Iran’s nuclear talks with the West, the country’s foreign minister said, as it seeks to reduce regional tensions.

“We hope Washington and Tehran will return to the Vienna talks,” Fuad Hussein said during a press conference with his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.

Mr Abdollahian is on an official state visit to Iraq where he is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al Sudani and Parliamentary Speaker Mohammed Al Halbousi.

Washington withdrew from the nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, in 2018 under former US president Donald Trump.

The agreement allowed for UN inspections of sensitive nuclear sites in Iran in exchange for Tehran surrendering some of its enriched uranium. Iran also enjoyed a relaxation of trade sanctions imposed by the US, and largely adhered to by Europe.

But Mr Trump said that the deal was weak because it would have allowed Iran to step up enrichment at a later date, so-called "sunset clauses" that Mr Trump's supporters opposed. They said this risked causing a regional nuclear arms race.

Critics also said the deal allowed Iran to build up its military using oil revenues, destabilising the Middle East.

Iran responded to extremely harsh sanctions imposed on it by Mr Trump after the deal collapsed ― a campaign known as "maximum pressure" ― by helping regional militias such as Yemen's Houthis to launch attacks on energy infrastructure across the Middle East.

Iran rapidly stepped up uranium enrichment after the deal collapsed in 2018 Talks to restore it have made little progress, with Tehran accusing the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, of working with foreign powers to sabotage its industry.

Updated: February 22, 2023, 10:28 AM