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EU's Borrell Says No Ministerial Meeting Planned At UN On Iran Nuclear Talks

By RFE/RL September 21, 2021

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell says he will meet with his new Iranian counterpart on September 21 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, but Borrell said no ministerial meeting of the parties to the 2015 nuclear deal is on the agenda.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said earlier that the ministers from Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia would meet with a representative of Iran at the United Nations this week to push for a restart of stalled talks over reviving the nuclear deal.

"Some years it happens, some years it doesn't happen. It's not in the agenda," said Borrell, who acts as coordinator for the deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

"But the important thing is not this ministerial meeting, but the will of all parties to resume negotiations in Vienna," he said, adding that he would meet with Hossein Amirabdollahian.

Speaking earlier on September 20, Le Drian said negotiations must restart.

"Time is playing against a potential accord. We need to take advantage of this week to restart these talks."

Le Drian added that Iran must accept a return to the talks as quickly as possible by appointing its representatives for the negotiations.

Talks between Iran and world powers over limiting Iran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief have been idle since June when Iran elected hard-line President Ebrahim Raisi. Raisi took office in early August.

Under the Iran nuclear agreement, Tehran agreed to restrictions on its nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of sanctions.

But in 2018 then-President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the deal, reintroducing painful economic sanctions. Iran responded as of 2019 by breaching many of the deal's core restrictions, like enriching uranium to a higher purity, closer to that suitable for use in nuclear weapons.

The European Union is mediating efforts between Iran and world powers to revive the deal, which has been deteriorating since the United States withdrew.

Negotiations to try to work out how Tehran and Washington can return to compliance with the nuclear pact began in April in Vienna.

Britain and the United States have expressed frustration over the stalled talks.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss issued a statement ahead of a meeting with her Iranian counterpart Amir Abdollahian in New York on September 20.

"The U.K., U.S., and our international partners are fully committed to a nuclear deal, but every day that Iran continues to delay talks whilst escalating its own nuclear program means there is less space for diplomacy," Truss said.

Earlier this month the United States warned that time is running out for a "strict return" to the nuclear deal.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken's comment came after a confidential quarterly report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) accused Iran of blocking inspectors' access to some of its nuclear sites. The report also said Tehran continues to boost its stocks of uranium enriched above the percentage allowed in the accord.

With reporting by AFP and Reuters

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/eu-un-iran -nuclear-talks/31470440.html

Copyright (c) 2021. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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