DUBAI, Sept 30 (Reuters) – Stalled talks between Iran and world powers to reinstate a 2015 nuclear deal will resume “soon”, the European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Thursday, while Tehran said it was evaluating the previous rounds of negotiations.
Speaking at a news conference in the Qatari capital Doha, Borrell was referring to indirect talks between Tehran and Washington in Vienna that began in April and were adjourned two days after hard-line cleric Ephraim Raisin won Iran’s presidential election in June.
Borrell, in comments translated into Arabic by Al Jazeera television, said he believed the negotiations aimed at bringing back Tehran and Washington into full compliance with the agreement will resume “within an acceptable period of time”.
After former U.S. President Donald Trump ditched the deal three years ago and reimposed sanctions on Iran, Tehran has been rebuilding stockpiles of enriched uranium, enriching it to higher levels of fissile purity and installing advanced centrifuges to speed up production.
President Joe Biden aims to restore the deal, but the sides disagree on which steps need to be taken and when, with the key issues being what nuclear limits Tehran will accept and what sanctions Washington will remove.
Western powers have urged Iran to return to negotiations and said time is running out as Tehran’s nuclear programme is advancing well beyond the limits set by the deal.
Tehran says its nuclear steps are reversible if Washington lifts all sanctions. Iranian and Western officials have said many issues remain to be resolved before the accord can be revived.
Echoing Iran‘s official stance, Iran‘s foreign ministry spokesman told Le Monde newspaper that “Iran has reached conclusion that we certainly will return to the nuclear talks” in Vienna.
Saeed Khatibzadeh added that Iran would not “waste an hour before returning to Vienna talks once a re-evaluation of the sixth round of the nuclear talks” is completed by Raisi’s government.
Despite Iran‘s need to bolster its economy by negotiating an end to U.S. sanctions, insiders expect Raisi to adopt a tougher line when the talks resume.
France said it is counting on China, which has close ties to Tehran, to use its most “convincing arguments” with Iran to get Tehran back to nuclear talks, French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Anne Claire Legendre said in a response to a Reuters question.
European officials say they are determined to keep unity among the parties to the nuclear deal – China, France, Russia, Britain, Germany and the United States – but have become increasingly concerned about China’s role.
U.S. and European officials have said that the United States has reached out to China about reducing its purchases of Iranian crude oil.
(Reporting by Ghaida Ghantous and John Irish in Paris Writing by Ghaida Ghantous and Parisa Hafezi Editing by Alison Williams and Frances Kerry)