The EU’s political director is set to hold talks with Iranian officials in Tehran on Thursday, and European officials are warning that the visit will not be “business as usual” as the West is pressuring Iran to return to negotiations to revive the nuclear deal.
“The visit comes at an important time,” diplomats from France, the UK, and Germany said Wednesday, according to Reuters. The three countries, known as the E3, are the European signatories to the JCPOA.
“The situation in the nuclear field has been worsening and been aggravated continuously since then. For this reason, we do not see this visit as ‘business as usual’, but rather as a decisive visit in the crisis,” the E3 officials said.
Separately, French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Anne-Claire Legendre said the actions of Iran’s government “raises doubts” about its intention to return to talks. “While refusing to negotiate, Iran creates facts on the ground that further complicate the return to the JCPOA,” she said.
Washington also ramped up the rhetoric against Iran Wednesday, with US officials warning “other options” were being considered. Secretary of State Antony Blinken made his comments alongside Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who made clear some of the “options” include military action.
The JCPOA talks have been stalled since June 20th, around the time Iran’s new President Ebrahim Raisi was elected. Raisi is viewed as a hardliner, but he still favors a JCPOA revival if the US lifts sanctions, and his government has said Iran intends to return to talks soon, without giving a specific date.
While the West blames the delay on Iran, it was the Biden administration’s refusal to lift all Trump-era sanctions that dragged out the talks in the first place. The negotiations started in April and lasted through June as the two sides negotiated limited sanctions relief, a significant concession for Iran. The last round of talks wrapped up with the two sides far apart on key issues.