Nuclear talks between world powers and Tehran on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal are set to resume in Vienna on November 29 following a five-month hiatus, amid growing Western concerns over Iran’s nuclear advances.
The talks will be chaired by EU mediator Enrique Mora and will be attended by representatives of the remaining parties to the agreement -- Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and Iran -- the bloc’s European External Action Service said in a statement on November 3.
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri, who serves as Tehran's chief negotiator, said on Twitter that the date was set in a phone call with Mora.
The State Department said U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley will be heading the American delegation in Vienna and that Washington hopes Tehran returns to the talks ready to negotiate and in good faith.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the landmark accord in 2018 and reimposed crippling punitive measures despite Iran's compliance with the deal, which curbed its nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief.
In response, Tehran has gradually breached limits imposed by the pact, including on uranium enrichment, refining it to higher purity, and installing advanced centrifuges.
Trump's successor, Joe Biden, who took office in January, has pledged to rejoin the deal if Iran returns to full compliance.
But six rounds of indirect negotiations in Vienna that began in April failed to reach agreement and the talks were put on hold after Iran's presidential election in June that brought anti-Western hard-liner Ebrahim Raisi to power.
The main sticking points center around Tehran's demand for a broad lifting of U.S. sanctions and technical nuclear details about how Tehran will return to compliance.
The EU statement said that participants in the upcoming talks in the Austrian capital “will continue the discussions on the prospect of a possible return of the United States to the JCPOA and how to ensure the full and effective implementation of the agreement by all sides."
The 2015 nuclear accord is known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action, or JCPOA.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Ned Price said Washington still believed it was possible to quickly reach and implement an understanding on a mutual return to compliance with the pact.
"We believe that if the Iranians are serious, we can manage to do that in relatively short order," Price told reporters.
In his tweet, Bagheri said the negotiations will be aimed at the “removal of unlawful and inhumane sanctions” against Iran.
Earlier in the day, the head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council said the United States has to offer guarantees that it will not again abandon the nuclear accord in order to ensure the success of the talks to revive it.
"The U.S. president, lacking authority, is not ready to give guarantees. If the current status quo continues, the result of negotiations is clear," Ali Shamkhani said in a tweet.
On October 30, the leaders of the United States, Germany, France, and Britain urged Iran to return to the nuclear talks and resume compliance with the 2015 nuclear accord to prevent a "dangerous escalation."
“We express our determination to ensure that Iran can never develop or acquire a nuclear weapon and shared our grave and growing concern that, while Iran halted negotiations on a return to the [JCPOA] since June, it has accelerated the pace of provocative nuclear steps, such as the production of highly enriched uranium and enriched uranium metal,” Biden, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and French President Emmanuel Macron said in a joint statement released after a gathering on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Rome.
Iranian officials claim the country’s nuclear program is purely for civilian use.