This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amirabdollahian, have called in a telephone conversation for the Iran nuclear deal to be restored to its original form.
“The parties focused on the situation around the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear program and the prospects for resuming the Vienna negotiations on the JCPOA,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on November 6. “They called for restoring the nuclear deal in its original balanced form, approved by the United Nations Security Council. They confirmed that it was the only way to ensure the rights and interests of all parties to the comprehensive agreement.”
The JCPOA was signed in 2015 between Tehran and world powers, including Russia, and was intended to curtail Iran’s controversial nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
The United States withdrew from the deal in 2018 under then-President Donald Trump, and Iran has since consistently increased activity in its nuclear program, including expanding its stockpile of enriched uranium, arguing that it was no longer subject to the terms of the vacated deal.
Trump’s successor, President Joe Biden, has expressed interest in rejoining the pact if Iran returned to full compliance. However, indirect negotiations between the deal’s signatories that started in April in Vienna were put on hold in June after the Islamic republic elected hard-liner Ibrahim Raisi as president.
Negotiations are expected to resume on November 29, with Raisi vowing on November 4 that Iran would not back down “in any way.” However, Iran has also said that its increased efforts to enrich uranium and other violations of the original deal are reversible if Washington lifts reimposed sanctions and rejoins the pact.
Iran has denied seeking nuclear weapons and Western officials and analysts believe Tehran’s escalation of enrichment is aimed at gaining leverage during the talks.