‘We don't think it's necessary’: US dismisses Iran’s push for extra EU meeting as nuke talks await

·3 min read

Iran is wasting time with a push for a sidebar meeting with European Union officials in Brussels, according to U.S. and European officials.

“We don’t think it’s necessary,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters Monday. "The destination we seek is in Vienna, not an intermediate step in Brussels.”

Iranian officials shifted last week from their summer-long practice of refusing to meet for talks with Western officials to now proposing a plan to huddle with European Union officials — in the absence of the United States. This diplomatic gambit occurred just as Secretary of State Antony Blinken and allied officials signaled that they would discuss potential military options to counter the regime’s nuclear program in an apparent final push to induce Iran to return to the negotiations in Vienna, not Brussels.


“Such discussions would not replace the Vienna negotiations with the other participants of the JCPoA and the United States,” a French foreign ministry spokesperson told reporters, using the formal acronym for the 2015 nuclear deal. “Those talks were interrupted four months ago at Tehran's request, and Iran has not yet committed to a date for their resumption.”

European Union high representative Josep Borrell's team contradicted Iranian claims that a meeting would take place on Thursday.

"At this stage we cannot confirm if or when a meeting will take place,” EU spokeswoman Nabila Massrali told reporters.

That repudiation came on the heels of Borrell, the bloc’s lead diplomat, expressing his “hope that we will have preparatory meetings in Brussels in the days to come” as he arrived at the EU’s regular meeting of foreign ministers. Price and French officials alike prioritized the Vienna talks as the avenue to broker a U.S. and Iranian return to compliance with the nuclear deal.

“In the meantime, it is urgent and crucial for Iran to end the activities of unprecedented gravity that it is conducting in violation of the JCPoA and to immediately resume full-fledged cooperation with the IAEA,” the French foreign ministry spokesperson added, referring to Iran’s defiance of a United Nations nuclear watchdog that detected nuclear material at three undeclared nuclear sites.


That additional rebuke coincided with IAEA director general Rafael Grossi’s arrival in Washington for meetings Monday and Tuesday. His itinerary includes a briefing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where senior Democrats regard Iran’s refusal to answer questions about the missing nuclear material as a major impediment to returning to the 2015 nuclear deal.

“As we have said repeatedly, France, its E3 partners, its other JCPoA partners and the United States are prepared to return immediately to the Vienna negotiations and to resume them where they left off last June, in order to swiftly conclude an agreement on Iran's return to its commitments and the United States’ return to the JCPoA,” the French foreign ministry spokesperson said.

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Tags: News, Foreign Policy, National Security, Iran, France, European Union, IAEA

Original Author: Joel Gehrke

Original Location: ‘We don't think it's necessary’: US dismisses Iran’s push for extra EU meeting as nuke talks await

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