International talks on Iran’s nuclear programme restarted on Monday after a five-month hiatus with Tehran “determined” to reach a deal as analysts warn of major obstacles to any speedy resumption of the 2015 nuclear deal.
Iran paused the negotiations in June after the election of an ultraconservative new President, Ebrahim Raisi . Diplomats at the time had said they were “close” to an agreement.
Iran ignored appeals from Western countries to restart the talks for several months, all the while strengthening the capabilities of its nuclear programme. In August, Mr. Raisi said Iran was again open to talks.
The talks started just after 3 p.m. in the Palais Coburg hotel where the 2015 agreement — known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) —was clinched. Along with Iran, diplomats from Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia are attending. The United States is taking part in the talks indirectly.
On Monday, Iran said it had “a firm determination to reach an agreement and is looking forward to fruitful talks”.
“If the other side shows the same willingness, we will be on the right track to reach an agreement,” said Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Said Khatibzadeh.
Last week, US Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley said Tehran’s attitude “doesn’t augur well for the talks”.
“If they start getting too close, too close for comfort, then of course we will not be prepared to sit idly,” Mr. Malley told the U.S. National Public Radio.
Bring back on track
The EU, which is chairing the talks, said on Monday it was “crucial to pick up from where we left it last June, and that all sides work swiftly and constructively to bring the JCPOA back on track as soon as possible”.
The JCPOA offered a lifting of some of the array of economic sanctions Iran had been under in return for strict curbs on its nuclear programme. But the deal started to unravel in 2018 when then-U.S. president Donald Trump pulled out and began reinstating sanctions on Iran.
The year after Mr. Trump’s move, Iran retaliated by starting to exceed the limits on its nuclear activity laid down in the deal.