UK warns Iran to 'meaningfully' engage in nuclear talks

Vienna negotiations over a return to the 2015 accord have been on hold since June

In this image made from April 17, 2021, video released by the Islamic Republic Iran Broadcasting, IRIB, state-run TV, various centrifuge machines line the hall damaged on Sunday, April 11, 2021, at the Natanz Uranium Enrichment Facility, some 200 miles (322 km) south of the capital Tehran, Iran. Iran named a suspect Saturday in the attack on its Natanz nuclear facility that damaged centrifuges there, as Reza Karimi and said he had fled the country "hours before" the sabotage happened. (IRIB via AP, File)

The UK’s Foreign Secretary has warned Iran that “all options are on the table” if it fails to “meaningfully” engage in talks over its nuclear programme.

Negotiations in Vienna that seek to resurrect the 2015 deal that Iran signed with world powers, which gave Tehran sanctions relief in return for nuclear curbs, have been on hold since June when the Iranian presidential election took place.

In 2018, then-US president Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the accord and reimposed heavy sanctions on Iran, which in response has repeatedly breached the limits set out in the accord.

As concerns grow over Tehran’s increased uranium enrichment, Liz Truss told the UK Parliament: “Iran has no credible civilian justification for its nuclear escalation. As I made clear to my Iranian counterpart, Iran urgently needs to return to the negotiating table.

“If Iran does not engage meaningfully in negotiations, we will reconsider our approach. All options are on the table.”

A date for the resumption of the Vienna talks has not been set. The negotiations featured the remaining signatories to the 2015 accord – China, the EU, France, Germany, Russia and the UK – amid indirect talks between Iranian and US diplomats who were also present.

A senior EU foreign affairs official will host Iran’s chief negotiator on the deal on Wednesday in Brussels in a bid to restart the stalled talks.

US President Joe Biden has said he is ready to re-enter the 2015 agreement, as long as Iran meets conditions such as full compliance. Iran, however, wants the sanctions lifted first.

Conservative MP Greg Smith previously described Iran as the “world’s leading sponsor of terror groups, including those committed to the destruction of Israel”.

He asked the government if “having a nuclear weapon would give Iran the ultimate protection to spread its malign influence in the region?”

The UK's Middle East minister James Cleverly said, “our priority absolutely remains to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapon capability".

“Sadly, Iran’s nuclear programme has never been more advanced and it is more worrying today than perhaps it has ever been.”

He urged Iran to take the opportunity at the Vienna talks to restore the deal.

Updated: October 26th 2021, 1:32 PM
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