European officials are preparing to make a fresh push to salvage a nuclear deal with Iran, offering to send a top European Union negotiator to Tehran in an effort to break a stalemate in talks, Western diplomats told The Wall Street Journal on Sunday.
Enrique Mora, the European Union coordinator of the negotiations, has told Iranian counterparts he is ready to return to Tehran to open a pathway through the deadlock, the sources said. So far, Iran hasn’t responded with an invitation.
Iran has gradually scaled back its compliance with the 2015 deal, in response to former US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement in May of 2018, but has held several rounds of indirect talks with the US on a return to the agreement.
Negotiations nearly reached completion in March before Moscow demanded that its trade with Iran be exempted from Western sanctions over Ukraine, throwing the process into disarray.
The deal has also run into trouble in recent weeks over Iranian demands that the US lift its designation of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) as a terrorist organization.
A recent report indicated that the Biden administration is considering removing terrorism sanctions from the IRGC as part of negotiations to restore the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
However, a subsequent report in The Washington Post said that the Biden administration plans to reject the Iranian demand.
State Department spokesman Ned Price recently appeared to dismiss the Iranian demand regarding the IRGC blacklisting.
"If Iran wants sanctions lifting that goes beyond the JCPOA, they'll need to address concerns of ours that go beyond the JCPOA," Price said when asked about the issue.
According to the Wall Street Journal, US officials have said that President Biden won’t relax or eliminate the conditions for lifting the terror designation.
The Western diplomats say they want to put the onus back on Iran, making it clear the talks could end unless Iran offers a way through the standoff. The opening for the talks came during an April 23 call between Iran’s foreign minister and his EU counterpart. Mora will try to persuade Iran to sign off on a final text of the agreement without the foreign terrorist designation and leave that issue to a future point, diplomats said.
The diplomats added that if Iran comes back with a demand for a US concession on another issue, Washington will consider that. However, the diplomats also said there can be no broad renegotiation of the deal.