The United States and Europe have renewed their call for Iran diplomacy.
In meetings in Paris on Friday, the US and three European powers agreed that Iran must return to talks as soon as possible, despite mounting concern about a delay.
According to State Department spokesman Ned Price, US ambassador on Iran Rob Malley spoke with his counterparts from the UK, France, and Germany about how diplomacy “continues to provide the most viable avenue” on Iran.
“We are all in agreement that negotiations should begin as soon as possible in Vienna, and that they should resume exactly where they left off after the sixth round,” Price told reporters in Washington.
Since former US President Donald Trump stepped out of the deal in May 2018, the 2015 accord between Iran and international powers to find a long-term solution to the now two-decade-old crisis over its contentious nuclear program has been dormant.
Joe Biden, Trump’s successor, has stated that he is willing to re-enter the accord if Iran meets crucial preconditions, including complete compliance with the deal’s terms, which Iran has repeatedly violated by stepping up nuclear operations after Trump’s withdrawal.
However, the Vienna-based talks through intermediaries made little progress before being halted for four months following the election of hardliner Ebrahim Raisi as Iran’s president.
Malley’s travel to Paris follows a journey to the Gulf, where he met with allies Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, all of which are concerned about Iran’s nuclear program.
The negotiations come at a “critical time,” according to the French foreign ministry, when France and other world powers are still willing to return to the Vienna talks on bringing the US back into the deal.
“In the meantime, it is critical and essential that Iran stops violating the nuclear agreement in unprecedented ways,” the ministry said, pushing Iran to restart full collaboration with the UN Atomic Energy Agency “immediately.”
Iran is suspected of developing an atomic bomb, according to Western powers, Israel, and pro-Washington Arabian Peninsula governments. Tehran rejects this, claiming that its primary goal is to provide energy to its citizens.
After reaching a fresh deal on monitoring Iran’s nuclear program last month to help revive the negotiations in Vienna, UN nuclear watchdog head Rafael Grossi expressed concern Tuesday that he was still waiting for a “high-level” session with Iranian authorities.
Malley also met in Paris with South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-kun, who is embroiled in a billion-dollar dispute with Iran. The Washington Newsday Brief News is a daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C.