The visit of a top EU official to Tehran seems not to have produced any immediate results for resuming nuclear talks in Vienna, European officials indicate.
A senior EU official said on Friday Iran is not ready to return to talks with world powers yet and its new negotiating team wants to discuss the texts of previous talks when it meets with the EU in Brussels in the next few weeks, Reuters reported.
EU political director Enrique Mora, the chief coordinator for the talks, was in Tehran on Thursday to meet members of Iran's new nuclear negotiating team, four months after discussions broke off between Iran and world powers.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi (Raeesi) who assumed office in Auguat, has so far refused to resume indirect talks with the United States in Vienna despite earlier claims that it needed time to form a new government and return to the talks.
Diplomats from France, Britain and Germany, who are party to the accord along with China and Russia, said ahead of Mora's visit that it came at a critical time and things could not be deemed "business as usual" given escalating Iranian nuclear activities and the stalling of negotiations. The United States has also repeatedly said time was running short. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said this week that Washington would consider “other options” if Iran delayed a resolution.
Meanwhile, Iran has been enriching uranium far beyond limits set by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or the Iran nuclear deal. Israel and many in the West are concerned that Tehran is getting close to a nuclear breakout while delaying talks to revive the JCPOA.
"They are not yet ready for engaging in Vienna," the official told reporters on condition of anonymity, adding that he believed Tehran was "absolutely decided to go back to Vienna and to end the negotiations." The Islamic Republic has repeatedly said it will return to the negotiations "soon", but it has not given a clearer timeline. Western diplomats had hoped the Vienna talks might resume before the end of October.
However, after Mora's visit, Iran's foreign ministry said it would hold talks in the coming days with the EU in Brussels.
"They insisted that they don't want talks for talks, they want talking with practical results and with a final agreement on how to bring JCPOA back to life," the official said.
Describing a meeting in Brussels as a "good idea", the official said it would give both sides the opportunity to go through the texts on the table from June and clarify questions that Iran's new negotiating team may have.
"I think we are just clarifying even more the situation for a final destination, which is going to be resuming in Vienna. I expect that soon," he said.
As Iran is enriching more uranium, it is also building more leverage to make new demands, which Western countries have dismissed as unacceptable. Iran has been mentioning lifting of sanctions and unfreezing of its blocked funds by the United States as a show of goodwill, while there is still no agreement on how the parties would return to the JCPOA.
With reporting by Reuters