Iran agrees to resume nuclear talks

Iran said Wednesday that it would resume talks with world powers on its nuclear development program at the end of November. There has been no confirmation of new negotiations from other parties to the 2015 international pact, which aims to curb Iran’s development of nuclear weapons.

The agreement originally covered the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and the European Union, but President Donald Trump pulled the United States out in 2018 and reimposed economic sanctions on Iran. Trump’s argument at the time was that the terms of the deal were not strong enough to deter Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

Since then, Iran says it has enriched its uranium to a purity level of 60%, but not to the 90% that is considered the level for making weapons. Iran has in recent years denied accusations of wanting to build nuclear weapons and says its nuclear development is for peaceful purposes.

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri, who is Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, wrote on Twitter Wednesday, “We agreed to start talks before the end of November. The exact date will be announced in the next week.”

The European Union and world powers have been urged to restart negotiations since the election of a hardliner in Iran – President Ebrahim Raisi.

US President Joe Biden has said he is willing to restart talks if Iran is willing to abide by its previous commitments to the nuclear deal and end uranium enrichment. But Vienna-based talks between America and Iran conducted through intermediaries made progress before being interrupted by Raisi’s election. Those talks have been suspended for the past four months.

Robert Malley, America’s special envoy to Iran, on Monday warned Iran that the United States had not disclosed “other options” if Iran resumed nuclear work. However, he said the Biden administration preferred diplomacy. [ka/jm]

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