Negotiations to reactivate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the nuclear agreement signed in 2015 during the Obama administration that blocked Iran's atomic programme in the short term, in exchange for economic benefits brought about by the lifting of sanctions, resumed in the Austrian capital of Vienna on Thursday. Contacts to resume the deal have been stalled for five months.
European Union sources confirmed to Efe the reactivation of the negotiations today, led by Enrique Mora, number two to the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, and political director of the European External Action Service, who announced his return to the Austrian capital on Wednesday to, he said, "discuss the return of the JCPOA to full implementation".
Iranian chief nuclear negotiator Ali Baghari Kani and US special envoy for Iran Robert Malley have also announced they will be in Vienna to resume contacts.
Washington, which scuttled the deal in 2018 when then-president Donald Trump decided to abandon it and reimpose economic sanctions on Iran, is participating in the contacts indirectly, given Iran's refusal to sit at the same table. Germany, France, the UK, Russia and China, the other signatories of the JCPOA, are all part of the negotiations.
This new attempt to revive the JCPOA comes after the European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, announced that he had presented a draft agreement to try to close negotiations that have been dragging on for fifteen months. Borrell acknowledged that the space for new compromises had "run out" and argued that if an agreement is not reached now, there is a risk of a "dangerous nuclear crisis".
According to Borrell, the deal would bring economic benefits to Iran, thanks to the lifting of sanctions, and regional and global security.
After the US pulled out of the deal and reimposed economic sanctions, Iran began breaching the JCPOA's limits on its nuclear programme and has accumulated nuclear fuel of sufficient quantity and purity to be close to being able to fuel a bomb.
Negotiations stalled last March when negotiations were close to a deal that balanced the US lifting its sanctions and returning to the JCPOA, while Iran brought its nuclear capability to a level that precluded military uses.
All sides have shown a willingness to reach a deal, although Iran and the US have blamed each other for making the necessary moves to reach a consensus.