A European Union envoy met with Iranian officials Thursday to try to revive efforts to resurrect the 2015 nuclear accord with world powers, the first major signal in months that negotiations could resume soon.
Enrique Mora, the EU envoy who’s helped mediate six rounds of indirect talks between Iran and the U.S. with the help of Russian and Chinese diplomats, was greeted in Tehran by Iran’s new Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani, according to the official government website, dolat.ir.
Mora will call the next round of big-power talks in Vienna “if all parties to the accord are ready for it” European Commission spokesman Peter Stano told reporters at a briefing in Brussels, emphasizing the “urgency” of the negotiations.
“The Iranians have told us that we will restart soon, we can discuss if this means tomorrow or next year, but I think there is a dynamism,” he said.
World powers have been urging Iran to return to the negotiating table and end a deadlock with the U.S. over restoring a deal that then-President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018. The move triggered a security crisis in the Persian Gulf and led Tehran to significantly expand its nuclear activity in response.
On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Iran the “runway is getting shorter” to resume the talks, but said he still favored diplomacy as the best way to resolve their standoff.
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Much has changed in Tehran since the last round of talks reached an impasse in June following the election of ultraconservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi as president. His hawkish team favors building deeper ties with regional powers and China over agreements with the West.
Energy traders have also been waiting anxiously for months to see whether and when broader talks in Vienna would resume. Iran, which has the world’s fourth-largest oil reserves and second-largest natural gas reserves, saw its exports plummet after the U.S. exited the nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions in 2018.
Its return to global oil markets could have a dramatic impact as the world economy recovers from the pandemic. The Paris-based International Energy Agency said on Thursday that Iran could quickly add 1.3 million barrels of oil a day to its current production capacity if U.S. sanctions are eased.
(Updates with quotes from EU official in third and fourth paragraphs and U.S.’s latest comments in sixth paragraph.)
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