Signatories of Iran nuclear deal to meet for talks on US return and Tehran’s compliance

Representatives of Iran, China, Russia, France, Germany and Britain will hold talks on Friday to discuss the return of the US to the 2015 nuclear deal and Tehran’s compliance to the accord, the EU said in a statement on Thursday.

The meeting of the signatories to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) comes after US President Joe Biden has said he is open to talks with Iran about a return if it agrees to comply with the agreement. Tehran has said a key first step would be a reversal of sanctions imposed by Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump.

Under the JCPOA, Western signatories agreed to lift sanctions on Iran as long as it continued to limit its nuclear program, including adhering to caps on uranium purity and the amount it is able to produce.

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In 2018, Trump pulled the US unilaterally out of the deal despite monitors saying Tehran was in compliance at the time, and imposed a “maximum pressure” campaign of sanctions on Iran.

In response, Iran started to breach its commitments under the agreement, including by producing 17.6 kilos of uranium enriched to the 20 percent level, according to a report by the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), last month.

On Thursday, Reuters reported seeing another IAEA report showing that Iran has started enriching uranium with a fourth set of advanced IR-2m centrifuge machines at its underground Natanz nuclear plant.

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The IAEA is reported to have said that Iranian nuclear scientists have begun feeding UF6 gas into a fourth cascade of 174 IR-2m centrifuges, which Iran started using last year, despite being banned under the JCPOA.

If true, the move would be a further breach of the nuclear deal and puts pressure on the Biden administration to shift from its position of only engaging in talks if Tehran shows compliance, which has so far resulted in a standstill between the two states.

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