After a two-week hiatus in efforts to resuscitate the JCPOA, nuclear diplomacy resumed on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. Iran’s lead negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani accompanied President Raeisi on his trip to New York, raising speculations that talks would be held with parties to the 2015 nuclear deal.
The fate of the JCPOA has been shrouded in a cloud of uncertainty since Iran and the United States made known their views on an EU draft deal. Even EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who coordinates the talks, told Politico in New York on Monday, “We are at a stalemate”.
“The last request from the Iranian side was not exactly pushing for an agreement,” Borrell said, adding, “If we had to say today if something happened this week, I would say I don’t think so.”
Contrary to Borrell’s pessimism, other signs emerged promising that nuclear talks would take place on the sidelines of the UNGA. President Ebrahim Raeisi met his French counterpart on Tuesday and Bagheri would sit down for talks with Borrell’s deputy Enrique Mora. Moreover, Qatar’s foreign minister, whose country has good relations with both Iran and the U.S. and has tried to bring the views of Washington and Tehran closer, met separately with Robert Malley, the U.S. special representative for Iran affairs, and Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in New York.
Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani wrote on Twitter that he discussed with Amir-Abdollahian “the latest developments in the negotiations to return to the Joint Action Plan with the U.S. Looking forward to our cooperative efforts in this regard.”
A spark of hope appeared to be flaring as Iran received new messages from the International Atomic Energy Agency. Mohammad Eslami, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) said on Monday, “There are messages from the IAEA to Iran which indicate that the agency intends to close the case of the three sites,” where the agency has claimed to have found traces of uranium.
“We hope that they will be honest and not waste more time to pressure Iran,” he added.
If the IAEA tosses the case on the safeguards dispute with Iran, this will remove one of the main obstacles in the way to reach a deal on the revival of the JCPOA. Tehran stresses that the case must be closed in any talks leading to an agreement on the JCPOA.
Bagheri said that given the messages Iran received from the IAEA, he would “meet and talk” with Mora on the sidelines of the UNGA.
It seems that Iran’s insistence on ending the safeguards dispute has been rewarded and a solution will be found during the talks in New York.
Macron’s meeting with Raeisi is of critical importance as the French president is set to meet his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden afterwards.
It is highly expected that Macron will push for bridging the gulf between Iran and the U.S. to revive the JCPOA during his meeting with Biden.
Iran always emphasizes that it has never left the negotiating table and is ready to reach a good, lasting and strong agreement.