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Wednesday, December 1, 2021

‘Preparatory’ Iran nuclear talks to resume in Brussels this week


The last round of Vienna talks took place in June.

Nuclear negotiations designed to restore the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA] will resume in Brussels on 21 October, an Iranian official said on Sunday, though this should be seen as a preparatory step towards discussions in Vienna.

According to AFP, Iranian Lawmaker Ahmad Alirezabeigui said talks with the p4+1 will restart on Thursday in Brussels, in a decision made following a closed-door meeting with Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.

The upcoming round of talks will be the first to take place under the new Ebrahim Raisi administration.

This comes after EU envoy Enrique Mora, who is in charge of coordinating the nuclear talks, visited Iran on Thursday and met with Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri.

Both sides agreed on holding meetings in Brussels in efforts to resume negotiations with world powers in the next few weeks.

Indirect US-Iran talks in Vienna kicked off in April this year to revive the 2015 nuclear accord following Washington’s withdrawal, with both sides expressing their readiness to restore the accord at the time.

The last round of talks in Vienna took place on 20 June and reports suggested diplomats would return to the negotiating table following Raisi’s inauguration.

“Of course, talks in Brussels can not substitute the ViennaTalks on JCPOA. It goes without saying. At the same the forthcoming meeting in Brussels, if the Iranian side needs it, can be viewed as a preparatory step towards resumption of real negotiations in Vienna,” tweeted Russia’s representative at the Vienna talks Mikhail Ulyanov.

‘Cordial’ talks with Iran yet to reach results: Saudi FM

The restoration of the JCPOA following the US withdrawal in 2018 has been a priority among members of the P4+1, with parties involved in the accord seeking the resumption of Vienna talks for months.

This comes amid concerns over Iran’s nuclear activity, with the US and Iran warning of “other options” if Tehran does not curb its nuclear programme.

In recent months, Iran has increased its uranium enrichment to 60% to respond to various  attacks over its nuclear sites, including one that targeted the Natanz facility. Tehran blamed Israel for the assaults, which struck the Islamic Republic amid talks in Vienna.

Iran and the US have also been exchanging blame over the willingness to return to negotiations, with the former demanding that Washington lifts its sanctions on Tehran in order to resume discussions.

Meanwhile, US Special Representative for Iran Robert Malley is travelling to Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates between 15-21 October to discuss the stalemate.

Qatar has been stressing the importance of a swift return to negotiations while offering to mediate between the US and Iran.

“We are going to provide any assistance or support needed by the parties. We are talking and engaging with Iran, encouraging them to go back to the deal,” said Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani at fourth annual Global Security Forum in Doha.

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