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Iran Says Ready To Resume Nuclear Talks Next Month

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(RFE/RL) — Iran has agreed to resume talks next month with world powers aimed at reviving the moribund 2015 nuclear deal, its top nuclear negotiator said following talks in Brussels.

“We agree to start negotiations before the end of November. The exact date will be announced in the course of the next week,” Ali Bagheri wrote on Twitter after meeting with EU envoy Enrique Mora in the Belgian capital on October 27.

A State Department spokesperson said Washington was “prepared” to return to Vienna for indirect negotiations with Tehran. “We believe it remains possible to quickly reach and implement an understanding on return to mutual full compliance,” the spokesperson said.

The other participants in the negotiations did not immediately comment.

The EU and world powers have been struggling to revive the talks, which have been on hold since Iran’s presidential election in June that brought hard-liner Ebrahim Raisi to power.

Former President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the international accord in 2018 and reimposed harsh sanctions, despite Iran’s compliance with the deal. In response, Tehran has gradually breached limits imposed by the pact, including on uranium enrichment, refining it to higher purity, and installing advanced centrifuges.

President Joe Biden came to office offering to revive the deal, but six rounds of indirect talks with Iran in Vienna that began in April failed to reach agreement.

The main sticking points center around Tehran’s demand for a broad lifting of U.S. sanctions and technical nuclear details about how Tehran will return to compliance.

In recent months, there have been repeated delays in reviving the talks as EU mediators and Iran discussed the terms of a return to negotiations.

Last week EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said “time is pressing” in getting the talks going again, adding that the new government in Tehran had had enough time to prepare.

U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley told reporters on October 25 that Washington has become increasingly worried that Tehran would keep delaying a return to the talks.

Malley, fresh off a weeklong trip to European and Gulf Arab nations, said Iran may be engaging in delaying tactics to allow more time to advance its nuclear program.

“We’re in a critical phase of the efforts to see whether we can revive the JCPOA,” Malley said, referring to the deal formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. “We’ve had a hiatus of many months and the official reasons given by Iran for why we’re in this hiatus are wearing very thin.”

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