EU and Iran divided on timeline for restarting nuclear deal talks with US

Enrique Mora travels to Tehran as western officials push for resumption of Vienna negotiations paused in June

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EU and Iranian officials meeting in Tehran failed to agree to a timeline for the resumption of nuclear deal negotiations with the US, but the two sides will sit down for further consultations in Brussels in the coming days.

Enrique Mora has convened six round of talks in Vienna on reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, but the negotiations have been on hold since the Iranian presidential vote in June that led to the election of Ebrahim Raisi.

The negotiations brought US and Iranian officials to Vienna but no direct meeting took place between the two sides. Neither was there any direct Iranian engagement with the remaining parties to the agreement – Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia.

EU spokesman Peter Stano said the trip to Tehran by Mr Mora, who coordinated the 2015 deal, underlined the "urgency of resuming discussions".

"We are awaiting the Iranians' response."

The EU's foreign affairs representative, Mr Stano said, was in the US on a parallel mission.

"Josep Borrell is for his part in Washington where he is meeting with his American counterpart Antony Blinken over the Iranian nuclear accord," he said.

"We shall see the outcome of these discussions."

Tehran’s foreign ministry said it had “serious doubts” about Washington’s willingness to commit to the terms of the deal that former President Donald Trump unilaterally ditched three years ago.

The deal gave Iran sanctions relief in return for limits on its nuclear programme, but has in effect been void since Mr Trump abandoned it and reimposed heavy economic measures.

In response, Tehran has repeatedly breached the limits set out by the accord, and its nuclear programme has yielded higher quantities of enriched uranium.

The nuclear deal also gave international monitors unprecedented access to Iranian nuclear facilities, but that right has been limited since February.

European and US officials have urged for the Vienna negotiations to continue.

Mr Mora said his visit to Tehran came at “a critical point in time”. The EU diplomat said he would “raise the urgency” that the Vienna meetings recommence. “Crucial to pick up talks from where we left last June to continue diplomatic work.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Iran on Wednesday that the “runway is getting shorter” to resume the talks, but said he still favoured diplomacy as the best way to resolve their dispute.

Updated: October 14, 2021, 6:07 PM