US President Joe Biden says that restoring the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as ‘the Iran nuclear deal’, must be followed immediately by an agreement on limiting Iran’s missile program and backing of terrorist groups.
Meanwhile, Tehran reportedly reiterated that a new deal to halt the Islamic Republic from having a nuclear bomb is dependent on the lifting of US sanctions placed on the country.
At a press conference after the latest Foreign Affairs Council on May 10, EU High Representative and Vice-President of the Commission Josep Borrell said the EU and the Biden Administration have already made progress together on some important issues, such as reengaging the Americans in the Iran nuclear deal.
“I have been briefing my colleagues about the (ongoing) negotiations – you know that the High Representative is also the Coordinator of the JCPOA – this remains an extremely delicate and intense diplomatic process. I dare to say that I am optimistic, there is a window of opportunity that will stay open for a couple of weeks until the end of the month but a lot of work is needed, time is limited and I hope that the negotiations will enter in a phase of non-stop negotiation in Vienna,” Borrell said.
Talks resumed in Vienna on May 7 with the remaining parties to the deal – Iran, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany. The US was also present in Vienna, but Iran, which is scheduled to hold presidential elections on June 18, has refused to hold direct meetings with Washington about resuming Tehran’s compliance with the deal, which former President Donald Trump scrapped three years ago.
Borrell said he was optimistic about the ongoing Iran nuclear talks in Vienna but warned that there remained a lot still to do within a short time frame if efforts to revive the 2015 accord were to succeed.
“I dare to say that I am optimistic, but not about the whole universe. I am optimistic about what is going on in Vienna. What is going on in Vienna is an effort to have the US go back to the agreement in order to have full compliance from Iran. Which is the best way to ensure the exclusively peaceful nature of the Iran Nuclear Programme,” he said.
Borrell reminded that the purpose of these negotiations is to go back on track and have Iran and the US return to full implementation. “What can I say is that these talks have been constructive and there have been some moderate advances. As you know, at these kinds of conversations, nothing is agreed until everything is agreed,” he said. “The efforts of my team, the European Union Team is working very hard and they are in Vienna and they will continue being there,” he added.
“But do not ask me for the following steps, what is going on after. Let’s go step by step. This is a very sensitive process. We have to work quickly, we only have a couple of weeks. Not everything will be solved in these couple of weeks. There will be a lot of other different issues that will be put on the table later on,” Borrell said, adding, “But by the time being, let’s try to go back on track of the previous agreement”.
While Borrell appeared to be upbeat about the talks, the likelihood that the Iranian government and the country’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps would agree to cut ties with their terrorist proxies across the Middle East – including Lebanon’s Hezbollah; the Gaza Strip’s Hamas, which is currently engaged in an escalated conflict with Israel; Iraq’s Kata’ib Hezbollah; the Houthis in Yemen – is unlikely.