The UK, France and Germany have accused Iran’s hardline government of denying agreements it reached with the Islamic Republic to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, and issued their sharpest warning yet that time is running out to save the deal. .
After Iranian negotiators submitted new proposals this week during talks designed to prevent the total collapse of the agreement, diplomats from the three European signatories to the agreement said Tehran “stepped back on almost all the difficult compromises made” in previous rounds of discussions.
The three senior diplomats warned that it was “unclear how these new gaps could be closed within a realistic time frame based on Iranian concepts”, adding that “major changes” were demanded.
“Our governments remain fully committed to a diplomatic path forward,” they said in a joint statement. “But time is running out.”
Iran resumed EU-mediated talks in Vienna this week with the E3, China and Russia – two other signatories – aiming to reach an agreement leading to the US rejoining the agreement from which former President Donald Trump unilaterally 2018 withdrew. delegation is in the Austrian capital, but only indirectly involved in the negotiations.
This week’s talks were the first since President Ebrahim Raisi, a conservative cleric and protégé of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, won elections in June, which put regime hardliners in control of all arms of the state for the first time in almost a decade.
Raisi said he was committed to the talks, but his government tightened Tehran’s stance, including its insistence that all sanctions – including those before Trump’s presidency – be lifted and that the US guarantee that no US president is capable of unilaterally withdraw from the agreement. in the future.
The previous rounds of talks in the first half of the year began after US President Joe Biden entered the White House and promised that his administration would rejoin the agreement and lift many sanctions if Tehran returned to full compliance with the agreement. sou val.
But those negotiations took place when President Hassan Rouhani, a pragmatist who was a staunch supporter of the agreement he helped broker, came to power. Although all key decisions are ultimately decided by Khamenei, Rouhani has tried to return against hardliners who are critical of the agreement and resistant to involvement with the West.
In the months since the last round of talks in June, Tehran has continued to expand its nuclear activity, enriching uranium at its highest levels ever, which are close to weapons levels.
It has raised concerns about Iran’s intentions and exacerbated fears that it would become impossible to salvage the deal, which has been seen as critical to preventing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.
A member of the Iranian delegation at the talks in Vienna denied the Europeans’ claim that Tehran had renounced already agreed compromises, saying that previous texts were considered by all sides as only draft agreements.
Western negotiators have made no promises about lifting sanctions against Tehran, the person added.
European diplomats have said they will return to their capitals to seek instructions from their governments before resuming talks next week.
When the talks were adjourned Friday night, senior EU diplomat Enrique Mora, who is leading the talks, said there were “significant challenges” ahead and “time was limited.”