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Iran nuclear talks to resume on Monday, says EU diplomat

Enrique Mora, chair of the Vienna talks, says it is ‘important to pick up the pace’ of the negotiations and ‘move forward’

Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS) Enrique Mora speaks to journalists after a meeting on the Ira nuclear deal, in Vienna on December 17, 2021. (Alex Halada/AFP)
Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS) Enrique Mora speaks to journalists after a meeting on the Ira nuclear deal, in Vienna on December 17, 2021. (Alex Halada/AFP)

Talks to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal will resume next Monday, the EU diplomat chairing the negotiations said on Thursday, urging a “picking up of the pace.”

Officials have said the deal would become obsolete within weeks if Iran continued to step up its nuclear activities as it has been doing since 2019, a year after the United States left the landmark agreement and reimposed sanctions.

“Vienna talks to resume on Monday 27 December. The JCPOA Joint Commission will meet to discuss and define the way ahead,” EU diplomat Enrique Mora wrote on Twitter, referring to the acronym of the deal’s formal name. “Important to pick up the pace on key outstanding issues and move forward, working closely with the US. Welcome to the 8th round.”

Negotiations restarted in November after a five-month hiatus to try to restore the deal, which offeree=d Iran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.

Diplomats from parties to the deal — China, Britain, France, Germany and Russia — are in talks in Vienna with Iran and the US, with the two sides refusing direct contact.

US negotiator Rob Malley on Tuesday warned of a “period of escalating crisis” if diplomacy failed to restore the agreement.

US Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley speaks during a media briefing on the sidelines of the Manama Dialogue, in the Bahraini capital Manama, on November 19, 2021. (Mazen Mahdi/AFP)

Iran claims it only wants to develop a civilian nuclear capability, but Western powers say its stockpile of enriched uranium goes well beyond that and could be used to develop a nuclear weapon.

Israel is not a party to the talks but has threatened force if diplomacy fails, and the US has also said it is preparing “alternatives.”

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan landed in Israel earlier this week to meet with top Israeli and Palestinian officials, including Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

“The US and Israeli delegations held detailed consultations on Iran, with Mr. Sullivan underscoring the US administration’s determination to confront all aspects of the threat Iran poses to regional and international peace and security,” National Security Council Spokesperson Emily Horne said in a statement. “He also reaffirmed the firm commitment of the United States to ensuring Iran never gets a nuclear weapon.”

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