October 5, 2022

Top European Union official Enrique Mora announced on Twitter on Wednesday that he would head to the Austrian capital to discuss returning to full implementation of the nuclear deal under a proposal put forward by top EU diplomat Josep Borrell in recent weeks.

Rob Malley, the US special envoy for Iran, said on Wednesday that he was preparing to travel to Vienna for talks based on that proposal.

“Our expectations are in check, but the United States welcomes the EU’s efforts and is ready for a good-faith effort to reach an agreement. It will soon be clear whether Iran is prepared for the same,” he tweeted.

A senior Biden administration official stressed that they are not overly optimistic that the next round of meetings will produce a breakthrough in long-standing efforts to revive the deal. The latest round of indirect talks between Washington and Tehran, hosted in Doha in late June, ended without any progress.

Tehran’s chief negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani also led the Iranian delegation in Vienna for the talks.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani “stressed Iran’s determination to reach a strong agreement that guarantees the rights and interests of the Iranian nation,” a statement said.

The United States withdrew from the deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, in 2018 under former President Donald Trump. In the wake of the US withdrawal, Iran has increasingly violated the agreements it had made under the deal and expanded its nuclear program.

On Monday, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken backed an EU proposal, saying the US was “ready to move forward on what has been agreed”, but it was unclear whether Iran was willing to do the same.

Borrell described the proposal as “the best possible deal that (he), as negotiator, believes is possible,” noting that “after 15 months of intense, constructive negotiations and countless interactions with JCPOA participants and the U.S., the time for further significant compromises to reach an agreement has run out.”

“It’s not a perfect deal, but it addresses all the essentials and includes hard-earned compromises on all sides,” Borrell wrote in a post on Saturday. “Decisions must be made now to seize this unique opportunity to succeed and unlock the great potential of a fully implemented agreement. I see no other comprehensive or effective alternative.”

During a press conference at the United Nations on Monday, Blinken noted that “the EU has put forward the best proposal based on many, many months of discussions, negotiations, talks.”

“It’s very consistent with something they proposed in March that we’ve agreed to, that we’re going to pursue in March,” Blinken said. “But it remains to be seen whether Iran is willing and able to proceed.”

“We continue to believe, as I said this morning, that this would be the best way forward — a return to compliance on both sides of the JCPOA, to make sure we put Iran’s nuclear program back in a box and we will prevent any kind of crisis,” he said.

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