Ali Bagheri-Kani, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator. FILE PHOTO

Iran’s Nuclear Negotiator Confirms European Tour Before Vienna Talks


Ali Bagheri-Kani, Iran's leading nuclear envoy, confirmed Monday he will be meeting European diplomats in preparation for resumed talks in Vienna November 29.

"Exchanges on bilateral & regional issues AWA future talks are on the agenda," Bagheri-Kani tweeted. “We shall spare no effort in advancing our national interests incl removal of illegal sanctions.”

France's foreign minister told his Iranian counterpart on Tuesday that when talks with world powers on reviving the JCPOA resume at the end of November, they must continue where they left off in June.

The comments suggest growing concern over Iran's public rhetoric before indirect talks between Iran and the United States resume in Vienna on Nov. 29.

Foreign journalists including the diplomatic editor of Britain's Guardian newspaper had reported earlier that Bagheri-Kani would meet with French, British, and German diplomats, including Philippe Errera, the French foreign ministry political director and lead negotiator, Tuesday and Liz Truss, the United Kingdom’s foreign minister, Thursday.

Saeed Khatibzadeh, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman, told his weekly press conference Monday that Bagheri-Kani would visit Paris, Berlin, London, and possibly Madrid.

Tehran had already expressed intention to liaise with remaining parties to the 2015 nuclear agreement, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – China, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom – before resuming Vienna talks aimed at reviving the JCPOA, which former United States president Donald Trump unilaterally left in 2018, imposing draconian sanctions on Iran.

Bagheri-Kani began is diplomatic tour in Moscow October 29, meeting with the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. Soon afterwards, Bagheri-Kani confirmed the date, November 29, for restarting talks in Vienna.

The administration of President Joe Biden, which has continued Trump’s ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions on Iran, has meanwhile continued to stress its coordination with Europe, the Sunni-led Arab states, and Israel.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday during a visit to Egypt that the US had serious concerns regarding Iran's “destabilizing influence in the region,” a reference to Israeli and Saudi unease over Iran’s alliances.

Blinken, however, linked this to Biden’s stated commitment to return to the JCPOA, which Israel and Saudi Arabia have opposed. "An Iran with a nuclear weapon would be an even more destabilizing force in the region and beyond,” Blinken said, “which is why President Biden met recently in Rome with his German, French, and British counterparts to discuss how we can work together to get Iran back into compliance with the JCPOA...”

Many US Republicans oppose a US return to the JCPOA and lifting ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions. Congresswomen Claudia Tenney has demanded that Biden “clarify” whether Iran played any role in a recent assassination attempt on Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi. "We shouldn’t be negotiating with a regime that’s actively working to assassinate foreign leaders," Tenney tweeted Monday.

Iran in June interrupted the Vienna talks that had started in April with the indirect participation of the United States.

With US ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions continuing, Iran has accelerated its nuclear program, which began to exceed JCPOA limits in 2019, the year after Trump imposed the sanctions. Iran has also trimmed back monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to that required under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Having survived the US sanctions, many in Iran argue its position has strengthened. Javan newspaper, which is affiliated to the Revolutionary Guards, recentlysaid Iran would be returning to talks with a “full briefcase”, as it had accumulated 210kg of uranium enriched to 20 percent and 25kg enriched to 60 percent. Under the JCPOA Iran enriched to only 3.67 percent.

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Chand Chand

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