Restoring Iran nuclear deal was not focus of E3-Iran talks: Germany

A German Foreign Ministry spokesman said Friday the latest talks between Iran and the E3 -- Germany, France, UK -- did not include efforts to resume stalled talks in Vienna to revive the 2015 nuclear deal

It was “expressly not about negotiations for the JPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action). As we have stressed many times, there are currently no negotiations on the JCPOA,” Christian Wagner told reporters in Berlin.

Wagner reiterated Germany’s “concern” about Iran’s attempts at escalation in the nuclear dossier.

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister and lead nuclear negotiator, Ali Bagheri, confirmed reports late Wednesday about his meeting with senior European diplomats in the Norwegian capital of Oslo last week.

Bagheri said in a tweet that he met political directors of the E3 countries and “discussed a range of issues of mutual interest and concern.”

“We spare no opportunity to clarify our views and warn against certain miscalculations. We are determined in advancing our national interests, including through diplomacy,” he wrote.

Bagheri did not divulge details about his meeting with the European diplomats, in his statement.

Iran’s state news agency, IRNA, had earlier cited sources who said the Iranian official met E3 diplomats in Oslo in the presence of EU deputy foreign policy chief Enrique Mora whose attendance, however, has not been confirmed by other reports.

Germany’s Foreign Ministry also confirmed that the meeting took place. The meeting, it noted, was to “make our positions very clear in the face of the Iranian escalation in many areas,” adding that there are “still no negotiations” on the nuclear deal.

Norway’s Foreign Ministry said it hosted an “informal meeting” between France, Germany, the UK and Iran “to discuss serious concerns and prevent escalation in a tense situation.”

According to sources, Oslo has also previously hosted a meeting between Iranian officials and the three European countries to end the stalemate in efforts to salvage the nuclear deal.

The US unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal in May 2018, after which Iran gradually ramped up its nuclear enrichment activities, higher than the limit stipulated in the deal.

Talks to revive the landmark deal remained stalled last August amid key disagreements between Tehran and Washington as well as Iran’s dispute with the UN nuclear watchdog.

Recent nationwide protests in Iran as well as accusations of Tehran supplying drones to Moscow for deployment in the Ukraine war have complicated efforts to revive the deal, with the US and European countries imposing a slew of new sanctions against Iran for the two issues.

The meeting between Bagheri and representatives of the three European countries, who are signatories to the JCPOA, came as Iran and its estranged Persian Gulf neighbors have been engaged in intense diplomacy to revive or upgrade ties.

Iran and Saudi Arabia, the two regional arch-foes, recently agreed to resume ties after seven years, paving the way for Iran’s closer ties with other Arab countries, including the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

More importantly, Iran’s engagement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has also increased in recent weeks following IAEA chief Rafael Grossi’s visit to Tehran.

During the high-stakes visit, the two sides agreed to resolve outstanding issues, including the agency’s probe into “traces of uranium” found at three undeclared nuclear sites in Iran.

The issue has been one of the key sticking points in the Vienna talks with the US and its European allies repeatedly urging Tehran to cooperate with the agency. Iran, however, denies the “accusations.”

Reinstallation of some surveillance cameras and other key monitoring activities also figured in Grossi’s discussions in Tehran, which he later referred to as "very concrete" promises given by Tehran that will be reviewed during the upcoming meeting of Iran-IAEA technical teams.

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