Europeans step up pressure on Iran over nuclear deal ahead of EU visit

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The Iranian flag flies in front of the UN office building, housing the IAEA headquarters, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Vienna, Austria on May 24, 2021. REUTERS / Lisi Niesner / File Photo

PARIS, October 13 (Reuters) – A pending visit to Tehran by the European Union coordinator for talks to relaunch the Iran nuclear deal cannot be considered “business as usual” given the escalation Iranian nuclear activities and the stalling of negotiations since June, European diplomats said.

Enrique Mora, EU political director, is due to meet with members of the Iranian nuclear negotiating team on Thursday four months after talks between Iran and world powers, including the United States, broke down to save the agreement.

“The visit comes at an important time,” British, German and French diplomats, known as E3, said in a note on Wednesday. All three countries as well as China and Russia are parties to the agreement.

“The situation in the nuclear field has worsened and worsened continuously since then,” they said, alluding to Iran’s accelerated enrichment of uranium to higher fissile purity, a possible path towards a nuclear bomb.

“For this reason, we do not see this visit as ‘business as usual’, but rather as a decisive visit in the crisis.”

The Islamic Republic has repeatedly stated that it will return to negotiations “soon” without giving any idea what this really means. Western diplomats have tentatively said a return to the Vienna talks may be possible before the end of October.

“Through its statements and actions on the ground, the new Iranian administration of President (Ebrahim) Raissi expresses doubts about its intention to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA),” the spokesperson told reporters. from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Anne-Claire Legendre. a daily online briefing.

“While refusing to negotiate, Iran is creating facts on the ground which further complicate the return to the JCPoA,” she said, adding that Tehran should also be clear on its intentions if it returns to the talks.

Since then-US President Donald Trump abandoned the deal in 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Iran, Tehran has replenished stocks of enriched uranium, refined it to higher purity levels and installed advanced centrifuges to speed up enrichment.

President Joe Biden aims to restore the deal to curtail Iran’s nuclear program, but the parties disagree on what and when.

Key issues include the nuclear limits that Tehran will accept, the sanctions that Washington will remove, whether there will be any guarantees and the prospect of follow-up talks on Iran’s future nuclear program, regional and ballistic missile activities, have declared diplomats.

Mora said on Twitter he would raise “the urgency of resuming” the talks where they left off in June.

Diplomats said they feared Tehran’s new negotiating team – led by a president known to be a hard-line anti-Western supporter unlike his pragmatic predecessor – might make new demands beyond the scope of what had previously been called for. already been agreed.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani, who is expected to lead the new Iranian negotiating team, confirmed on Wednesday that he will meet with Mora.

“The exchange of views on bilateral and regional issues, including Afghanistan, as well as talks on the removal of cruel sanctions, are on the agenda,” he said.

Reporting by John Irish and Parisa Hafezi Editing by Mark Heinrich

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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