The Iran nuclear deal participants hold virtual talks amid tensions

The Iran nuclear deal participants hold virtual talks amid tensions


The remaining parties to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal hold a virtual meeting in the wake of further breaches of the accord’s limits by Tehran and high tension in the region.

Senior diplomats from Iran and major powers are meeting online to discuss the state of their nuclear deal that is eroding despite conciliatory signals from United States President-elect Joe Biden.

Wednesday’s consultations are meant to prepare upcoming talks among foreign ministers from Iran, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China, according to diplomats.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCP0A), commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal, was agreed upon in Vienna on July 14, 2015, between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – China, France, Russia, the UK and US – plus Germany, together with the European Union.

US President Donald Trump pulled out of the pact and revived US sanctions in 2018. One year later, Iran started abandoning key provisions of the deal.

Iran currently has far more enriched uranium than allowed under the agreement that was reached in 2015, and has plans to install advanced equipment that could speed up this process, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna said in two recent reports.

The nuclear deal is meant to prevent Iran from amassing uranium that could be used for nuclear weapons. In return, the major powers promised to end Iran’s economic isolation by lifting sanctions.

‘No negotiations needed’

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and his future US counterpart Biden have both said they are willing to return to the agreement.

Earlier this month, Rouhani said the nuclear deal could be restored without negotiations. “The next person [Biden] can put up a nice piece of paper and sign it and it just needs a signature, we’ll be back where we were. It takes no time and needs no negotiations,” he said in a televised cabinet speech on December 9.

“And it’s not just about the US. The P4+1 can return to all their commitments and we will do the same,” he said in reference to France, Germany, the UK, China, and Russia, the other signatories of the deal.

However, Iranian parliamentarians pushed through a law earlier in December that would allow the government to ramp up uranium enrichment and block IAEA inspectors.

Wednesday’s talks are also overshadowed by the assassination of a high-ranking Iranian nuclear physicist in late November. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has blamed Israel, which is opposed to the nuclear deal.

Iran’s execution of a dissident journalist on Saturday has further soured the diplomatic atmosphere.