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Iran has agreed to resume nuclear talks before the end of November, officials said after they held two days of technical discussions in Vienna over the destination of its stalled nuclear deal with world powers.
Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister, tweeted: “Good to see Iranian representative @Ali_Mohammadi has arrived in Vienna. We will take advantage of this opportunity and deliver a message: the US must restore full sanctions relief and lift all sanctions.”
Iran and the five permanent members of the UN security council – the US, Russia, China, Britain and France – plus Germany, reached a landmark 2015 nuclear deal to restrict Tehran’s atomic activities in return for sanctions relief.
In January, however, Donald Trump abandoned the agreement as well as an international ballistic missile agreement, prompting other signatories to reaffirm their allegiance to the deal, in which Iran agreed to limit its nuclear programme in return for economic sanctions relief.
Iran responded by refusing to meet an April deadline set by the US to report to the International Atomic Energy Agency that it had complied with the agreement.
Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who ultimately decides Iran’s foreign policy, last month said that Tehran was no longer bound by the nuclear deal.
Tehran wants to strengthen the pact before the end of the deal’s implementation deadline of May 12.
Iran’s deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi, who is also in Vienna, said after the meetings that “significant progress” had been made to achieve the president’s goal of triggering an immediate re-imposition of US sanctions on Iran once the nuclear deal is terminated.
“In the near future, we will draft a plan to implement this plan. We have also told Mr Trump our choice,” Araghchi told reporters.
Araghchi said Iran’s exchange with the world powers was “significant”.
According to Araghchi, Iran was ready to return to talks to discuss its request for US sanctions relief to be extended as a one-time bonus. “Iran’s previous comments that they want to pay with dollars also applies to the reward they expect from the US. They can’t have it both ways,” he said.
A senior Iranian official said the December deadline for Iran to report on its compliance with the deal could be extended until after the summer.
“There is a chance that this report may be modified … but this is not under discussion,” the official told reporters.
The announcement of the restarted negotiations was put forward by another senior Iranian official, who said that the representatives of the European Union would attend their first talks with Iranian officials at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna on Monday.
A report by Iran’s semi-official Mehr news agency on Saturday quoted the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation as saying that European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and the foreign ministers of the EU member states would visit Tehran on 29 April, most likely in a bid to get Iran back into the nuclear deal.