The EU said Monday that there will be no Iran nuclear deal talks in Brussels on Thursday, contradicting a statement from Iran’s foreign minister that was made on Sunday.
“There will not be a meeting Thursday,” EU spokeswoman Spokeswoman Nabila Massrali told AFP. “At this stage, we cannot confirm if or when a meeting will take place.”
Earlier in the day, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrel suggested the talks could happen but said nothing was confirmed. Borrel said there was “hope that we will have preparatory meetings in Brussels in the days to come, but I cannot be sure of that.”
On Sunday, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said Tehran planned to send a negotiator to Brussels to meet with EU officials Thursday. An Iranian MP even said the talks would also involve the remaining signatories to the JCPOA, known as the P4+1. It’s not clear if the EU refused to participate in the talks or if Iran decided to cancel them.
When asked about the potential talks in Brussels, State Department spokesman Ned Price said they weren’t “necessary.” The US has been calling for Iran to return to indirect negotiations in Vienna that were held from April to June.
Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi has said he wants to return to negotiations, but he needs to know that the US is serious about lifting sanctions. “A readiness to lift sanctions can be a sign for its seriousness,” Raisi said on Monday.
Raisi wants any negotiations to be “goal-oriented” so they don’t drag out like the initial rounds of talks. So far, the Biden administration has refused to lift all Trump-era sanctions and has even implemented more. This position forced Raisi’s predecessor, Hassan Rouhani, to negotiate limited sanctions relief, a significant concession for the Iranians.
Besides maintaining a hardline on sanctions, the US has also been coordinating closely with Israel on Iran. Last week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid hinted at military action against Iran.