Iran has rejected a European Union proposal to hold direct talks with the United States and other western powers in the coming days on reviving the 2015 nuclear agreement.
“Considering the recent actions and statements by the United States and three European powers, Iran does not consider this the time to hold an informal meeting with these countries, which was proposed by the EU foreign policy chief,” an Iranian foreign ministry spokesman said.
Iran said the United States must lift sanctions imposed by former Prsident Trump after he withdrew from the nuclear agreement, while Washington says Tehran must return to compliance with the deal, which Iran has breached since 2019.
“While we are disappointed at Iran’s response, we remain ready to reengage in meaningful diplomacy to achieve a mutual return to compliance with JCPOA commitments,” the White House spokeswoman said.
She said it would consult with the major powers that are also parties to the deal – Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia – on the best way forward.
According to the Wall Street Journal, EU officials had been trying to get an agreement on dates for an informal meeting with Iran and had floated the possibility of talks in Vienna or Brussels in the coming days.
After a meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council last week, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell sounded optimistic on the possibility of an EU-led meeting to revive the 2015 nuclear agreement.
The Wall Street Journal wrote: ‘’Biden administration officials say that Iran’s assertive posture in the region makes it all the more important to rein in its nuclear activities. Administration officials have said that the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal, from which the Trump administration withdrew (in 2018) and whose limits were subsequently breached by Iran, would be a first step toward a more far-reaching arrangement the U.S. and its allies hope to achieve. That, the administration says, would include more enduring limits on Tehran’s nuclear program and restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missile program.’’
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has said that reviving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the nuclear deal with Iran, was “the most urgent and important” diplomatic priority in US-European relations.
He rejected efforts to expand the deal to address matters outside its current scope, warning that adding other issues to the accord would “block the process” to save it.
”The JCPOA, it is what it is. Maybe there are other issues that have to be taken into consideration. But don’t put everything together,” said Borrell.
He added that both Iranian compliance and US sanctions relief were needed for the nuclear deal to go back into effect.
“For us, the Europeans, the Iran nuclear deal, it’s a triumph of diplomacy, and we are very proud of it,” he said.
“I am convinced as coordinator of the JCPOA that we do have diplomatic space, a diplomatic window of opportunity to dialogue,” Borrell said. “We need to use this opportunity and focus on solutions to bring the JCPOA back on track in order for everybody to fulfil their commitments,” he added.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last week that he has told U.S. President Joe Biden that he will do whatever it takes to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, regardless of whether Washington reenters the nuclear deal with Tehran.
“I told him, with or without an agreement, my obligation as the Prime Minister of Israel, as the Prime Minister of the Jewish state, is to prevent a recurrence of the terrible things that have been done to our people,” he said in an interview with Channel 13.
On Monday, Netanyahu said that Iran was behind the explosion that hit an Israeli-owned cargo ship in the Gulf of Oman last week.
“This is indeed an action by Iran, it is clear,” he told the Kan public broadcaster.
Asked whether Israel would respond to the attack on the ship, Netanyahu said that Iran “is Israel’s biggest enemy and we are striking them across the region.”