New York – Iran does not want to abandon talks aimed at reviving a nuclear deal with major powers, its foreign minister said Friday, after Western powers expressed frustration over the slow pace.
“We are not seeking to quit the negotiating table,” Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told the official IRNA news agency.
“We will certainly pursue a negotiation that serves the rights and interests of our nation.”
A senior US official this week made clear Washington’s frustration with Tehran over the absence of any “positive indication” it is prepared to return to the talks to “close down the remaining issues.”
European governments said they heard nothing concrete from Amir-Abdollahian during their meetings on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
Speaking to IRNA from New York, the Iranian foreign minister said: “We are looking at avenues on the question of a return to negotiations, and, God willing, we will return to the negotiating table at the first opportunity.”
Concluded in 2015, the nuclear deal offered Tehran relief from Western and UN sanctions in exchange for Tehran’s commitment to never acquire nuclear weapons and to drastically reduce its nuclear activities, under the strict control of the UN.
But then US president Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew his country from the deal in 2018 and ramped up sanctions, provoking Iran into suspending most of its nuclear commitments.
Talks between Iran and the remaining five parties aimed at reviving the deal began in Vienna in April but have been suspended since June, when ultraconservative Ebrahim Raisi was elected president.
The US – under Trump’s successor President Joe Biden — has participated indirectly in those talks, which seek to bring Washington back inside the agreement and lift the sanctions on Iran.
Hopes of reviving the deal were kept alive earlier this month when Iran agreed to a new compromise with the UN nuclear agency on the monitoring of its nuclear facilities.
International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi said the move would provide “time” for “diplomacy.”