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Biden tells UN he'll return to 2015 deal if Iran complies

Iran announces it will resume Vienna nuclear negotiations in coming weeks

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman says no plans for talks on UN General Assembly sidelines, but matter ‘will be one of the main topics’ in meetings with EU’s top diplomat

Iran's Governor to the International Atomic Energy Agency Kazem Gharib Abadi, Political deputy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran Abbas Araghchi, and Deputy Secretary General and Political Director of the European External Action Service Enrique Mora stand in front of the Grand Hotel Vienna, where where closed-door nuclear talks take place in Vienna, Austria, on June 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Lisa Leutner)
Iran's Governor to the International Atomic Energy Agency Kazem Gharib Abadi, Political deputy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran Abbas Araghchi, and Deputy Secretary General and Political Director of the European External Action Service Enrique Mora stand in front of the Grand Hotel Vienna, where where closed-door nuclear talks take place in Vienna, Austria, on June 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Lisa Leutner)

TEHRAN, Iran — Nuclear negotiations between Iran and world powers should resume in the coming weeks, the country’s foreign ministry spokesman said on Thursday during a visit to New York for the United Nations General Assembly.

Talks began in Vienna in April, aimed at reviving a 2015 nuclear agreement between Tehran and world powers — an accord left hanging by a thread after former United States president Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew in 2018 and ramped up sanctions.

The discussions, which involve the remaining parties seeking to persuade Washington to rejoin the deal and Iran to return to its nuclear commitments, have been stalled since June, when ultraconservative Ebrahim Raisi was elected as Iran’s president.

“The Vienna talks will resume soon, in the coming weeks,” foreign ministry spokesman Said Khatibzadeh said, quoted by the official IRNA news agency.

Khatibzadeh said that there were no plans for a multilateral meeting between Iran and the remaining parties — China, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom — on the sidelines of the General Assembly.

But the “nuclear agreement and Vienna talks will be one of the main topics for bilateral meetings with the EU’s head of diplomacy” Josep Borrell and foreign ministers of parties to the agreement, he added.

Khatibzadeh did not specify which nations’ top diplomats the Iranian delegation would meet with, noting that “not all” relevant foreign ministers were currently in New York.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh during a press conference in Tehran, on February 22, 2021. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

The 2015 nuclear agreement offered Iran a reduction of UN sanctions in return for strict limits on its nuclear program, but Tehran has progressively stepped away from its commitments in the wake of Trump’s withdrawal and imposition of sanctions.

Trump’s successor Joe Biden has signalled a willingness to return to the deal, which was negotiated when he was Barack Obama’s vice president and during the tenure of Iran’s moderate president Hassan Rouhani.

US President Joe Biden speaks during the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York, on September 21, 2021. (Eduardo Munoz/Pool Photo via AP)

In his address to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Biden said that the US was willing to return to the 2015 accord, provided that Iran resumed compliance. He also reiterated the US commitment to prevent Iran from attaining nuclear weapons.

Hopes of a revitalized deal were kept alive earlier this month by Iran agreeing with the UN nuclear agency on a new compromise regarding surveillance of its nuclear sites.

International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi said at the time that move would provide “time” for “diplomacy.”

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