EU High Representative Josep Borrell visited Iran as part of the ongoing efforts to bring the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) back to full implementation.
Borrell arrived in Tehran Friday, accompanied by his deputy Enrique Mora, where he will meet Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and other officials.
Senior diplomatic sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Borrell would not offer any “new initiatives” to Tehran and that the visit aimed to “re-launch negotiations” on the nuclear talks.
“Diplomacy is the only way to go back to full implementation of the deal and reverse current tensions,” Borrell tweeted ahead of his visit.
Borrell met the US envoy to Iran, Robert Malley, Thursday evening in Brussels, accompanied by Mora.
After the meeting, Mora tweeted: “In-depth conversation about JCPOA and regional perspectives in the wider Middle East. Malley reiterated firm US commitment to come back to the deal.”
Mora toured several Gulf and Arab countries in the past few days, during which he discussed Iran, its interference in the region, its nuclear program, and regional developments.
Two weeks ago, the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna passed a Western resolution condemning Iran’s lack of compliance in investigating undisclosed sites.
The resolution calls for immediate cooperation after the United States and the three European countries, France, Britain, and Germany, submitted the draft resolution.
Iran responded by reducing its cooperation with the IAEA within the Safeguards Agreement and shutting down nearly 20 surveillance cameras that the Agency had installed in nuclear and other facilities.
IAEA Director Rafael Grossi warned there is a window of opportunity of three to four weeks to restore at least some of the monitoring that is being scrapped, or the Agency will lose the ability to piece together Iran’s most critical nuclear activities.
“I think this would be a fatal blow (to reviving the deal),” Grossi said of what would happen if that window went unused.
Western diplomatic sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the European countries and the US “expected” a strong response from Iran and that they will focus on efforts to revive the nuclear agreement, despite knowing that the matter has become more challenging than ever.
The past few days witnessed active diplomatic visits, including Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s trip to Iran.
The Iranian Foreign Minister held telephone consultations on the nuclear agreement with the foreign minister of China, Wang Yi, and his Omani counterpart, Sayyid Badr al-Busaidi.
A statement by the Iranian Foreign Ministry said that Amir-Abdollahian briefed Wang on the latest progress in the negotiations on resuming the nuclear deal’s implementation, saying that Washington’s “bullying” actions are the major obstacle to current talks.
He added that Tehran will unswervingly safeguard its national interests and is firmly committed to resolving differences through negotiations to achieve an agreement at an early date.
Amir-Abdollahian also expressed gratitude to China for its constructive role on the Iranian nuclear issue.
At a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart, Amir-Abdollahian said Iran is ready to resume the Vienna negotiations soon.
He urged the US to be “realistic” in reaching an agreement on reviving the deal.
Washington has reiterated that Tehran must abandon its demands “outside the nuclear agreement,” in reference to the request to remove the Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from the list of terrorist entities.
Several reports claimed that Tehran waived its demand, hindering the talks’ conclusion. The Iranian government is yet to comment on the matter.
It is not yet clear whether the re-launch of the nuclear talks that Borrell seeks to achieve in Tehran means bringing back the parties to the negotiation table in Vienna or addressing the contentious points from a distance.