EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell sounded quite optimistic Monday about the possibility of a EU-led meeting to revive the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, after a video conference between the 27 EU Foreign Ministers and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. It was the first such conversation on various world issues with the top U.S. diplomat since the Biden administration took office.
‘’I hope that in the next days there will be news,’’ said Borrell at a press conference after the Foreign Affairs Council meeting.
He added, ‘’We discussed the worrying recent developments in the nuclear field. We need to bring back full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the 2015 nuclear deal between world powers and IRAN, both as regards nuclear commitments and when it comes to sanctions lifting. This is the only way forward, and is in the interest of global and regional security.’’
The U.S. under former President Trump left the JCPOA in 2018 and reimposed tough sanctions on Iran. Since then, Tehran has intensified its uranium enrichment
But last week, the Biden administration offered to talk to Iran under the aegis of the European Union in an effort to revive the nuclear deal.
“We are of course concerned that Iran has over time moved away from its commitments under the JCPOA. There is now a proposition on the table; If Iran returns to full compliance, we will be prepared to do the same,” U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters.
Borrell said that ‘’intense diplomatic contacts’’ are ongoing these days, including with the United States. ‘’As JCPOA Coordinator, it is my job to help create space for diplomacy and to find solutions. And the work on this is ongoing. I informed the Ministers and I hope that in the next days there will be news,’’ he said.
Borell called the discussion with Blinken ‘’very positive’’. ‘’The next days and weeks will prove that working together (with the U.S.) delivers,’’ he said.
The U.S. State Department spokesperson said Blinken ‘’highlighted the United States’ commitment to repairing, revitalizing, and raising the level of ambition in the U.S.-EU relationship.’’
Borrell noted that the International Atomic Energy Agency has reached a temporary technical understanding with Iran that ‘’will allow a sufficient level of monitoring and verification in the coming months.’’ ‘’This gives us a window of opportunity and time, the time needed in order to try to reinvigorate the JCPOA,’’ he said as Tehran has increased its use of advanced centrifuges and begun producing quantities of uranium metal, essential for building nuclear warheads.
Tehran has threatened to expel inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) visiting the nuclear facilities this week.
The U.S. announcement that it was ready to talk directly with Iran on reviving the 2015 nuclear agreement was met with concern in Israel, amid accelerating Iranian breaches of the deal’s limits on its nuclear activities.
“Israel remains committed to preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons and its position on the nuclear agreement has not changed,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office on Friday. “Israel believes that going back to the old agreement will pave Iran’s path to a nuclear arsenal. Israel is in close contact with the United States on this matter.”
“With or without an agreement,” he added, “we will do everything so Iran isn’t armed with nuclear weapons,” he said.
Israel views the E3, the three European countries who are part of the nuclear deal with Iran- France, Germany and the UK – as more open to the Israeli position in recent months, according to a report by KAN, the Israeli public broadcasting channel, due to Iran’s repeated violations of the deal’s limitations. The E3 have pointed out that Iran’s announcement of more uranium enrichment and production of uranium metal have no credible civilian use.
Israel has increased pressure on the E3 to try to talk them out of rejoining the old Iran deal, KAN reported.