By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — The leaders of the United States, Germany, France and Britain on October 30 called on Iran to return to nuclear talks and resume compliance with the 2015 nuclear accord to prevent a “dangerous escalation.”
“We urge President Raisi to seize this opportunity and act in good faith so that negotiations can urgently find an outcome. It’s the only safe way to prevent a dangerous escalation, that would be in no country’s interest,” U.S. President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron said in a joint statement released after a gathering on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Rome.
“We agreed that continued Iranian nuclear advances and obstacles to the IAEA’s work will jeopardize the possibility of a return to the JCPOA,” the statement said, referring to the 2015 nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA).
“We are convinced that it remains possible to quickly reach and implement an understanding on return to full compliance,” the joint statement released by the White House said, adding: “This will only be possible if Iran changes course.”
Iran’s talks with six world powers aimed at reviving the 2015 nuclear deal are slated to resume by the end of November, Iran’s top nuclear negotiator said earlier this week. The exact date has not been announced yet.
Merkel said she was deeply concerned by Iran’s uranium enrichment.
“We are counting on a return of Iran to the negotiating table. But the clock is ticking. Uranium enrichment is occurring in Iran and this deeply concerns us,” she said on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Rome.
Earlier, a senior U.S. administration official told reporters that the meeting was Merkel’s initiative and would give the leaders an opportunity to go over the topic ahead of a critical period coming up.
“This is going to be a serious opportunity to check signals as we head into a really vital period” on this issue, “Reuters quoted the official as saying.
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 crippling 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 Biden has pledged to rejoin the deal if Iran returns to full compliance. But six rounds of indirect talks with Iran in Vienna that began in April failed to reach agreement.
Asked as he went into the October 30 meeting when he wanted the Iran talks to resume, Biden said only: “They’re scheduled to resume.”
U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on October 28 that the U.S. was still trying to determine whether Iran was serious about the negotiations.
“It’s not entirely clear to me yet whether the Iranians are prepared to return to talks,” he told reporters aboard Air Force One as Biden flew to Rome for the Group of 20 summit. “We have heard positive signals that they are, but I think we have to wait and see when and whether they actually show up at the negotiating table.”