Europeans question Iran’s intentions in nuclear talks fueling Tehran’s anger

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France, Britain and Germany said on Saturday they had “serious doubts” about Iran’s intentions to revive a nuclear deal, comments rejected by Tehran and called “very premature” by Moscow. Reuters reported.

Earlier this month, Iran sent its latest response to the European Union’s proposed text to reinstate the 2015 agreement, which saw Tehran curtail its nuclear program in exchange for relief from US, EU and UN economic sanctions.

Diplomats have said Iran’s response to the EU coordinator was a backwards step, trying to link a revival of the deal with the closure of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) investigations into traces of uranium at three sites.

The IAEA board of directors is meeting Monday, three months after the adoption of a resolution calling on Iran to provide credible answers to the watchdog on the issue. Prior to that meeting, European parties to the deal expressed their frustration.

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“This latest demand raises serious doubts about Iran’s intentions and commitment to a successful outcome at the JCPoA,” the three countries, known as E3, said in a statement, referring to the deal’s full name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

“Iran’s position contradicts its legally binding commitments and jeopardizes the prospects for the JCPoA’s recovery.”

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said the statement was “not constructive”, adding that “the three European countries are advised to take a more active role in providing solutions to end to the few disagreements that remain,” state media reported.

“If such an approach persists, they (E3) should also take responsibility for its consequences,” Kanaani said without elaborating.

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The European statement also prompted the Russian envoy to the talks to respond on Twitter, calling it “extremely untimely”. He dismissed the perceived blockage as something that “was not a serious obstacle”.

French negotiator Philippe Errera emphasized how entrenched the positions are before next week and called out his Russian counterpart.

“There has been no active negotiation since Iran’s last response – which you, unlike almost all of your followers, have had access to,” he said on Twitter.

Ulyanov replied that at least they agreed that there was no active negotiation.

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Then-U.S. President Donald Trump left the deal in 2018 and re-imposed U.S. sanctions, prompting Iran to violate the deal’s nuclear restrictions and reinvigorating fears among the U.S., Arabs and Israelis that it may be looking is to an atomic bomb. Iran denies having nuclear ambitions.

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The IAEA said on Wednesday that Iran’s stockpile of uranium enriched to 60%, close to weapons grade, had grown to sufficient, if further enriched, for an atomic bomb and that Tehran had still failed to explain the origin of the uranium particles.

“Given Iran’s failure to bring the agreement to the table, we will discuss, with international partners, how best to address Iran’s ongoing nuclear escalation and lack of cooperation with the IAEA regarding its NPT proliferation treaty) safeguard agreement,” the E3 said.

It is unclear at this stage how the Western powers will react, although diplomats said a new resolution at the IAEA was unlikely.