Written by Staff Writer Susan Candiotti, CNN London
Iran, the European Union, Germany and the United States agreed Tuesday to relaunch talks towards a comprehensive deal aimed at limiting Iran’s nuclear program.
After a one-hour meeting at the 15th NATO Summit in Brussels, European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini said that the temporary nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), “has successfully delivered on its goal of reducing the Iranian nuclear program in full compliance with its terms.”
In a joint statement, the sides said that technical talks will resume within a week, followed by high-level discussions in early May.
Two days ago, the British, French and German governments said in a joint statement that they would not sign an agreement with Iran that included “harms” to their interests. In the most recent two months of the implementation of the JCPOA, Iran has won back the right to export nearly $8 billion in frozen assets, with significant sanctions relieved.
The initial Iranian nuclear deal, agreed between Iran and the permanent members of the UN Security Council in July 2015, was designed to prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons by restricting the ability of Iran to enrich uranium or other advanced materials. The accord went into effect on January 16, 2016.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini speaks to the media after holding high-level talks with the foreign ministers of Iran, Turkey and Pakistan. Credit: John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images
The temporary agreement reduced Iran’s supply of enriched uranium in exchange for an initial lifting of sanctions. The three other parties to the agreement — the United States, Russia, China and Germany — had proposed a follow-on agreement to remove political obstacles to a long-term accord. Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has made clear he is opposed to a deal that would give too much ground on its nuclear program and never agreed to the “grand bargain” in which Tehran would move toward full membership in the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
Details of the deal have not been made public, but Iran has claimed that a second extension of the interim agreement does not constitute a new deal.
The country’s UN envoy, Gholamali Khoshroo, said the Joint Commission had agreed to “extend for another 90 days the terms for continuing talks on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that entered into force on January 16, 2016” and that “the negotiations are continuing on a track to complete all the agreements concerning the expansion of the JCPOA in late May of this year.”
Khashroo said the international community will work with Iran to bring the country back into compliance with the treaty, which requires a five-year inventory of nuclear activities.
“We have a long way to go in order to put in place the comprehensive agreement that we hope to achieve,” he added.