Iran will return to the talks in Vienna on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal within the next few weeks, its foreign ministry has said, although western powers remain suspicious of Tehran’s delaying tactics and the lack of specifics.
“Every meeting requires prior coordination and the preparation of an agenda,” Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said, according to the state news agency, Irna. “As previously emphasised, the Vienna talks will resume soon and over the next few weeks.”
Iran suspended the talks in June at the time of the election of President Ibrahim Raisi to give the new administration time to prepare a bargaining agenda and negotiating team. But after six intensive rounds, few expected Iran to take so long to return to Vienna or assemble its new negotiating team. Raisi is due to give his first address to UN general assembly on Tuesday by video link.
Intensive efforts by European powers on the sidelines of the UN general assembly this week to persuade Iran to hold a joint meeting with the other signatories in New York to the nuclear deal were rejected by Iran.
Instead, the new foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian will this week meet the five other signatories of the Iran deal – France, the UK, Russia, China and Germany. Liz Truss, the UK foreign secretary, was expected to press the Iranians on the issue of the release of detained British-Iranian dual nationals, but few expect any progress on the issue until the nuclear talks resume.
Russia, normally seen as sympathetic to Iran, has hinted at its concern with Iran’s stalling tactics, and insisted that any resumed talks should not start with a blank piece of paper, but should resume on the basis of what has been previously negotiated.
In a possible sign of tensions within the new government, Iran has yet to announce its chief negotiator for Vienna, let alone a specific date for its return.
The US has offered to lift most economic sanctions on Iran that are linked to the country’s non-compliance with the nuclear deal, but not those linked to human rights abuses. Iran has said it will come back into compliance with the deal, but only after it is clear that the lifting of sanctions has had a practical impact on the ability of Iran to trade.
Iran is also looking for new guarantees about what would happen if the US was to walk out of the deal again, as it did under Donald Trump in 2018. It wants guarantees that the US would, if in breach of UN security council resolutions, pay compensation.
In a brief reference to Iran, Joe Biden in his speech to the general assembly vowed that Washington was seeking “a return to the JCPoA”.
He added: “We are prepared to return to full compliance if Iran does the same.”