By Syed Zafar Mehdi
TEHRAN, Iran (AA) – Iran confirmed Monday it is exchanging messages with the United States through the European Union and some regional countries to narrow the gaps in reaching a nuclear agreement.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said in a weekly news conference in Tehran that the exchange of messages was underway through EU coordinator Enrique Mora and foreign ministers of some regional countries, adding that Tehran “welcomes” any such efforts.
Indirect talks between Tehran and Washington to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal have been underway in the Austrian capital Vienna since April last year, marked by multiple interruptions.
The last round of talks was held in August and focused primarily on EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell’s draft proposal, which was followed by Tehran and Washington exchanging comments on it.
In early September, Tehran submitted its final response to Washington’s comments, which was dismissed by the Biden administration as “unconstructive”, leading to another standoff.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi during his visit to New York to attend the 77th session of the UN General Assembly last month refused to hold an in-person meeting with his American counterpart.
However, Kanaani in his remarks on Monday said messages were exchanged between the two sides through Mora and other intermediaries on the margins of the UN summit in New York.
He added that Iran is determined to reach a “good, strong and stable agreement” if the American side shows “political will”, throwing the ball in the US court.
Iranian Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian in a phone call with his Qatari counterpart Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani on Saturday said that messages were exchanged with the US in New York to “bring the perspectives closer”.
He said things are “on the right track” following the Iran nuclear agency chief Mohammad Eslami’s recent visit to Vienna and meeting with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi.
Among the key sticking points in the Vienna talks is the UN nuclear watchdog’s probe into three “undeclared nuclear sites” in Iran that the Iranian government insists on being closed.
Last month, a joint statement by France, Britain, and Germany criticized Tehran for its demand to close the UN nuclear watchdog’s probe, blaming Iran for “jeopardizing” the talks.
Iran termed the European statement as “ill-considered” and “against the goodwill” to salvage the deal.
The former US administration under President Donald Trump walked out of the 2015 nuclear deal in May 2018, which was followed by the reinstatement of sanctions.
A year later, Iran started the process of scaling back its commitments under the deal, ramping up its uranium enrichment up to a 60 percent purity level, thus sparking concerns in the West.