image Photo: Reuters

France: Iran talks must resume where they halted

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian delivered the message during a telephone call with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amirabdollahian.

By Erin Viner

The latest developments come amid rising concern in the international community over rhetoric emanating from the Islamic Republic ahead of the resumption of indirect nuclear talks in Vienna on 29 November.

Talks between Iran and six powers began in Vienna in April to work toward returning Tehran and Washington to compliance with the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). After former United States President Donald Trump abandoned the pact and reimposed harsh sanctions on Tehran in 2018, Iran openly violated limits imposed by the agreement, including uranium enrichment that can provide a path to obtain the fissile material necessary to produce nuclear weapons’ an ambition Iran denies that was rejected by the Trump Administration and successive Israeli governments.

The Islamic Republic has delayed its return to the Vienna Talks, which adjourned after a 6th round in June after Ebrahim Raisi was elected Iranian president. The conservative leader, who was backed by the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, took office on 5 August.

Le Drian “stressed the importance and the urgency of resuming the negotiations interrupted on June 20 by Iran, on the basis negotiated up to that date, with the objective of a rapid return (to the JCPOA)” during yesterday’s call, said a French Foreign Ministry spokesperson.

Minister Amirabdollahian was cited by Iranian state media yesterday following talks he held with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, saying that the US withdrawal and the failure of the Europeans to meet their obligations had “deepened mistrust.”

On Monday, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh repeated Tehran’s demands that Washington immediately lift all punitive economic measures in a verifiable process, “recognize its fault in ditching the pact” and and provide guarantees that it will not withdraw from the JCPOA in the future should the Vienna Talks succeed in reviving the agreement.

This is not the first such warning from France. During a September call his then-newly-appointed Iranian counterpart, , Le Drian “underlined the importance and the urgency of an immediate resumption of negotiations” while expressing deep concern with over Tehran’s ongoing nuclear activities in violation of the JCPOA,  the French Foreign Ministry revealed at the time.

In related developments, Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani  was in Paris yesterday as part of a tour to the capitals of France, Britain and Germany, the “E3” European parties to the JCPOA. A British Foreign Office spokesperson said Bagheri Kani will be in London tomorrow, when the United Kingdom “will urge Iran to take the opportunity to swiftly conclude the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) deal on the table.”