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EU, Iran confirm Vienna nuclear talks to resume on 29 November

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The last round of talks took place in June this year.

Multilateral talks in Vienna aimed at reviving the 2015 nuclear deal are resuming on 29 November following months of delay, Iran and the EU confirmed on Wednesday.

The confirmation of the date of the talks came following a phone call between Iran’s nuclear negotiator and Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani and the EU’s mediator Enrique Mora.

“We agreed to start the negotiations aiming at the removal of unlawful & inhumane sanctions on 29 November in Vienna,” Bagheri Kani tweeted.

Indirect US-Iran talks kicked off in Vienna in April this year to revive the 2015 nuclear accord and adjourned following the sixth round in June. The talks were put on hold as Iran’s elections took place, which saw the win of President Ebrahim Raisi.

The talks were seen as part of US President Joe Biden’s efforts to reverse foreign policies of former President Donald Trump, who withdrew Washington from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA] to apply “maximum pressure” on Iran.

The upcoming round of talks would be the seventh to take place after negotiations in Vienna adjourned and would also be the first to take place under President Raisi.

According to the EU’s statement, the Joint Commission will be chaired by Mora on behalf of the bloc’s High Representative Josep Borrell and attended by representatives of China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK and Iran.

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“Participants will continue the discussions on the prospect of a possible return of the United States to the JCPOA and how to ensure the full and effective implementation of the agreement by all sides,” added the EU’s statement.

The US welcomed the announcement on Wednesday, saying it hoped Iran would return to the talks “in good faith”.

“We believe it remains possible to quickly reach and implement an understanding on a mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA by closing the relatively small number of issues that remained outstanding at the end of June,” US State Department spokesperson Ned Price told a press briefing.

Price added that reaching an agreement over mutual compliance to the JCPOA “remains possible,” and talks should pick up where they left off “if the Iranians are serious”.

“But we’ve also been clear, including as this pause has dragged on for some time, that this window of opportunity will not be open forever and that – especially if Iran continues to take provocative nuclear steps,” said Price.

Iran has been calling on the US to lift sanctions imposed following the former Trump administration’s withdrawal from the accord in 2018.

This prompted Tehran to increase its nuclear enrichment, which raised concerns among world powers. However, Iran defended its decision by maintaining its nuclear programme is peaceful.

“Any new US administration needs to learn from the strategic mistakes of the past. Isn’t it clear that the maximum pressure resulted in an enormous advancement of the Iranian nuclear programme? Is there any irresponsible politician in the US to repeat this catastrophic exercise?” said Russia’s representative at the talks Mikhail Ulyanov in a tweet on Wednesday.

Earlier this week, Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said President Biden could issue an “executive order” if he was serious about restoring the nuclear deal.

“It is enough for Biden to issue an executive order tomorrow, and they [US] announce they are rejoining the pact from the point where his predecessor left the deal,” said Amirabdollahian, adding that there would be no need for negotiations.

In Qatar, officials have expressed the Gulf state’s support for the resumption of negotiations to restore the JCPOA while offering to mediate between the US and Iran.

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