Preparatory nuclear talks are taking place in Brussels this week.
US President Joe Biden is eyeing a “united front” with the European Union in its foreign policy with Iran, Washington’s National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on Tuesday.
“Part of the reason the president wants to have the chance to coordinate closely with our European partners, particularly with the E3 who are part of the talks, is for us to have a united front after the four years of division on the Iran policy in the last administration,” Sullivan said.
The official’s statement came amid rising concerns over Iran’s nuclear programme and a prolonged delay in negotiations to restore of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA].
Indirect US-Iran talks kicked off in Vienna in April this year to revive the 2015 nuclear accord and ended after the sixth round in June ahead of the election of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.
Biden’s step towards resuming talks with Washington’s rival Iran comes as part of a long list of his administration’s reversal of policies pushed by former President Donald Trump.
Trump withdrew from the historic deal in 2018 in bid to apply “maximum pressure” on the Islamic Republic.
Sullivan said that while the US is concerned over Iran’s nuclear actions, his country still believes in finding a diplomatic solution to the situation.
“We are alarmed and concerned by the steps that they have taken since they left the joint comprehensive plan of action,” Sullivan said of the Iranian government, adding that returning to the negotiations is the US’ highest priority.
Meanwhile Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Ali Bagheri Kani arrived in Brussels on Tuesday to hold preparatory talks to restore the JCPOA.
Iranian officials and the European Union’s top negotiator Enrique Mora will meet in the Belgian capital “to continue our talks on result-oriented negotiations”.
On a busy day of diplomatic activity in Brussels, I had an early morning meeting & working breakfast with Theodora Gentzis, Secretary General of the FM of the Kingdom of Belgium, at Palais d’Egmont.
We discussed a host of bilateral issues, Afghanistan and other int’l matters. pic.twitter.com/ihkzNlEEPd
— علی باقریکنی (@Bagheri_Kani) October 27, 2021
In recent months, Iran has increased its uranium enrichment to 60% to respond to various attacks over its nuclear sites, including one that targeted the Natanz facility. Tehran blamed Israel for the assaults, which struck the Islamic Republic amid talks in Vienna earlier this year.
Iran and the US have also been exchanging blame over the willingness to return to negotiations, with the former demanding that Washington lifts its sanctions on Tehran in order to resume discussions.
The US had previously warned of “other options” if Tehran does not curb its nuclear programme.
In Qatar, officials have been expressing the Gulf state’s support for the resumption of negotiations to restore the JCPOA while offering to mediate between the US and Iran.
“Regarding the nuclear deal, we call on all sides to return to negotiations as soon as possible and try to reach an agreement that will contribute to ensuring peace and security in our region,” said Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani in a press conference in Doha on Wednesday alongside his Austrian counterpart Michael Linhart.