EghtesadOnline: The Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Tehran’s nuclear program will convene in a physical format on November 29 in Vienna, the European External Action Service announced on Thursday in a statement posted on its website.
The Joint Commission will be chaired, on behalf of EU High Representative Josep Borrell, by EEAS Political Director Enrique Mora. It will be attended by representatives of China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and Iran.
“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,” the statement said.
Iran’s top nuclear negotiator had said on Wednesday that talks on reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal would resume on Nov. 29.
“We agreed to start the negotiations aiming at removal of unlawful & inhumane sanctions on November 29 in Vienna,” Ali Baqeri said in a tweet.
Tehran and six powers started to discuss ways to salvage the nuclear pact in April. The pact has eroded since 2018, when then-US president Donald Trump withdrew from it and reimposed sanctions on Iran, prompting Tehran to suspend compliance with some limits on uranium enrichment the following year.
Negotiations have been on hold since the June election of Iranian President Ebrahim Raeisi, who is expected to take a tougher approach when they resume in Vienna.
The six rounds of talks held so far have been indirect, with chiefly European diplomats shuttling between US and Iranian officials because Iran refuses direct contact with the United States.
In Washington, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the United States hoped Tehran would return in good faith and be ready to negotiate. Washington believed they should resume where they adjourned in June.
“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,” Price told a news briefing.
“We believe that if the Iranians are serious, we can manage to do that in relatively short order. [However]... this window of opportunity will not be open forever,” he asserted.
Need for Guarantee
Earlier on Wednesday, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council suggested negotiations to revive the deal would fail unless US President Joe Biden could guarantee that Washington would not again abandon the pact.
In addition, Raeisi said on Thursday Iran will not back down “in any way” in defending its interests.
The president said Iran seeks the “lifting of all US sanctions and neutralization of sanctions.”
“The negotiations we are considering are result-oriented ones. We will not leave the negotiating table ... but we will not retreat from the interests of our nation in any way,” Raeisi stressed.
Separately, the commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, Hassan Salami, said US pressure on Iran had failed.
“The Americans have used all means, policies and strategies to surrender the Iranian nation ... but the Islamic Republic has become stronger,” Salami said in a televised speech to mark the takeover of the US embassy in Tehran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
There have been no US-Iranian diplomatic relations since the takeover of the embassy by revolutionary students.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry announced on Thursday that Beijing intends to promote negotiations on the restoration of the Iranian nuclear deal through joint efforts with Moscow, TASS reported.
China and Russia are ready to continue strategic interaction and will jointly promote the political settlement of the Iranian nuclear problem, according to a statement on a phone conversation between the two countries’ deputy foreign ministers, Ma Zhaoxu and Sergey Ryabkov, which took place on November 3.
It specified that the Chinese and Russian diplomats during the conversation reached a consensus on a wide range of issues. It emphasized that the return to the JCPOA must be carried out taking into account the interests of each of the parties concerned, on the basis of mutual respect.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said earlier during the G20 summit, Moscow fully supports the return to the JCPOA in its original form.
In another development, France contended on Thursday it could act with its partners against Iran at an upcoming meeting of the UN nuclear watchdog’s board.
Western powers scrapped plans in September for a resolution criticizing Iran at the International Atomic Energy Agency after Tehran agreed to prolong monitoring of some nuclear activities and invited IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi to Tehran for talks on key outstanding issues.
The decision by the United States, France, Britain and Germany not to push for a resolution by the IAEA’s 35-nation Board of Governors avoided an escalation with Iran that could have killed hopes of resuming wider talks in Vienna on reviving the nuclear deal.
Western states have increasingly become frustrated that Iran continues to exceed the limits on its nuclear activities set out the 2015 accord, and has yet to allow Grossi to come to Tehran for high-level talks that had been promised in September. The agency also claims that Iran has not properly addressed outstanding questions on alleged past nuclear activities.
“Iran must resume dialogue and cooperation with the agency without delay to make progress on outstanding issues,” French Foreign ministry spokeswoman Anne-Claire Legendre told reporters in a daily briefing, according to Reuters.
When asked whether Iran’s decision to return to the nuclear talks would make it unlikely that western powers criticize Tehran when the IAEA board holds it next quarterly meeting from Nov. 18, Legendre said Paris remained extremely concerned about Iran’s alleged breaches of its obligations and commitments, including those made in September.
“Together with our partners, we remain very attentive to ensuring that Iran respects its commitments, and we remain in close consultation on the response to be provided on this.”