Iran said Wednesday it would resume talks with world powers about its nuclear development program by the end of November.
The U.S. State Department is aware of the reports but did not have “any further details,” a spokesman said, about new negotiations from the other parties to the 2015 international pact aimed at curbing Tehran’s nuclear arms development, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.
“As we have said many times, we are prepared to return to Vienna, and we believe that it remains possible to quickly reach and implement an understanding on return to mutual full compliance with the JCPOA by closing the small number of issues that remained outstanding at the end of the sixth round of talks in June,” he said.
“As we have also been clear, this window will not remain open forever as Iran continues to take provocative nuclear steps, so we hope that they come to Vienna to negotiate quickly and in good faith,” he added.
The 2015 agreement included the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and the European Union, but former U.S. president Donald Trump pulled out of it in 2018 and reimposed economic sanctions against Iran.
Trump said at the time the provisions of the deal were not tough enough to deter Tehran’s nuclear arms program.
Since then, Iran has said it has ramped up its enrichment of uranium to a 60% purity level, but not to the 90% enrichment level that is considered weapons grade. Iran has over recent years continually denied it intends to assemble nuclear weapons and says its nuclear development is for peaceful purposes.
On Wednesday, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri, who serves as Tehran’s chief nuclear negotiator, wrote on Twitter, “We agree to start negotiations before the end of November. Exact date would be announced in the course of the next week.”
The EU and the world powers have been hard-pressed to get negotiations restarted since the election of a hard-liner in Tehran, President Ebrahim Raisi.
U.S. President Joe Biden has said he is willing to restart talks if Iran is willing to adhere to its earlier commitments on the nuclear agreement and end its stepped-up enrichment of uranium.
But Vienna-based talks between the U.S. and Iran conducted through intermediaries made little headway before being interrupted by Raisi’s election. The talks have been suspended for the last four months.
Robert Malley, U.S. special representative to Iran, on Monday warned Iran that the U.S. had undisclosed “other options” if Iran’s nuclear work advances, although he said the Biden administration preferred diplomacy.
Some of the material in this story came Agence France-Presse and Reuters.