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Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service Enrique Mora arrives for a meeting of the JCPOA in Vienna. November 2021. Alamy Stock Photo

EU envoy holds talks in Iran aiming to 'close gaps' on 2015 nuclear deal

Ireland is the UN Security Council’s facilitator on the Iran nuclear deal.

THE EU’S COORDINATOR for talks to restore the 2015 nuclear deal met Iran’s chief negotiator today in Tehran, state media said, in a bid to close gaps in the negotiations.

Iran has been engaged in negotiations to revive the accord formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia directly, and the United States indirectly since April 2021.

Ireland is the UN Security Council’s facilitator on the JCPOA, meaning Ireland updates the Council on progress towards implementing Iran’s nuclear agreement.

European Union diplomat Enrique Mora, who coordinates talks between Iran and the US, arrived in Tehran late last night and today met Iran’s chief negotiator Ali Bagheri, state news agency IRNA reported.

Mora met Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, state news agency IRNA reported.

The report gave no details on the meeting or earlier discussions between Mora and Iran’s chief negotiator Ali Bagheri. 

“Bagheri stressed that an agreement can be reached if the American side is realistic,” it added.

“Working on closing the remaining gaps in the #ViennaTalks on the #JCPOA,” Mora tweeted ahead of his trip. “We must conclude this negotiation. Much is at stake.”

His visit comes as EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell today saw a renewed accord within “days”.

“We are very close but there are still some issues pending,” Borrell told reporters on the sidelines of the Doha Forum in Qatar.

“I cannot tell you when or how, but it is a matter of days.”

Parties have signalled for weeks that the negotiations are close to an agreement, but that “political decisions” are required from Tehran and Washington.

The nuclear deal fell apart after the US under then-president Donald Trump unilateral withdrew from the accord in 2018 and reimposed crippling sanctions on Iran. Tehran retaliated by rolling back on most of its commitments from 2019.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian has said one of the key issues facing a deal is removing the Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) from a US terrorist list.

Senior Guards officials have suggested the issue be dropped if a deal ensured the country’s “national interests”, he said yesterday.

Today the US special envoy for Iran, Robert Malley, said in Qatar that Washington will maintain sanctions on the Guards, the ideological arm of Iran’s military.

“The IRGC will remain sanctioned under US law and our perception of the IRGC will remain,” Malley said.

The 2015 deal gave Iran much-needed sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programme that would guarantee that Tehran could not develop a nuclear weapon – something it has always denied wanting to do.

© AFP 2022

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