Top Iran Diplomat: European Stance Not Constructive at Nuclear Talks

VIENNA (Reuters) -
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian. (REUTERS/Aziz Taher)

European negotiators in talks to salvage Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers presented no “new practical initiatives” and were not constructive in the last round that paused on Dec. 17, the Iranian foreign minister said on Thursday.

The negotiations will resume on Dec. 27, Russia and the European Union’s foreign service said earlier on Thursday, a day after the U.S. national security adviser warned the troubled talks with Iran could be exhausted within weeks.

“We do not see the position of some European countries as constructive, specifically that of France,” Iranian state media quoted Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian as saying.

“When they say they are concerned about the progress of Iran’s nuclear program, we say out loud: ‘If you want to have your concerns addressed, then all sanctions must be lifted.’”

The nuclear accord began unravelling in 2018 when then-President Donald Trump withdrew Washington and reimposed stringent economic sanctions against Tehran, which responded by resuming and then accelerating its enrichment of uranium, a potential pathway to nuclear weapons.

The Islamic Republic denies seeking nuclear weapons, saying it only wants to master nuclear technology for peaceful ends.

The talks have made scant progress since they resumed earlier this month after a five-month hiatus following the election of hard-line Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.

Announcing the planned resumption of the talks next week, top Russian envoy Mikhail Ulyanov tweeted: “In this particular case this is an indication that all negotiators don’t want to waste time and aim at speediest restoration of [the deal].”

“Participants will continue the discussions on the prospect of a possible return of the United States to the (deal) and how to ensure the full and effective implementation of the agreement by all sides,” an EU foreign service statement said.

Tehran has sought changes to an outline of a deal that had taken shape in six previous rounds of talks, leaving them largely deadlocked while Western powers warned that time was running out to rein in Iran’s fast-advancing nuclear activities.

Senior British, French and German diplomats offered a pessimistic assessment of efforts to revive the deal under which Iran had limited its disputed nuclear program in return for relief from U.S., European Union and U.N. economic sanctions.

Amirabdollahian said Iran had “managed to get [our] views orally approved by all parties in the draft that will be discussed next week.” He did not elaborate.