Iran Top diplomat held talks with JCPOA European parties in Oslo

Iranian and European diplomats have met in Norway for talks geared to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, news sources reported on Wednesday.

Multiple sources with knowledge of the recent engagement have confirmed that the discussions took place in Oslo last week.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior source in Tehran said Iranian top nuclear negotiator Ali Baqeri-Kani—holding the rank of deputy foreign minister—met with political directors from E3 (Britain, France and Germany) foreign ministries. EU deputy foreign policy chief Enrique Mora was also in attendance. Of note, US Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley did not travel to Oslo.

Details of the agenda of the engagement are unclear. “It was supposed to be a brainstorming session,” the senior Iranian source told, adding that “more positive messages are needed to show that diplomacy is working.” A political insider separately described the talks as an “off the record discussion,” indicating that stumbling blocks remain.

While the meeting in Norway is rare, it is not the first time that the Scandinavian country—which has declined to join the European Union—has hosted talks between Europe and Iran. Multiple sources told that Oslo months ago hosted ‘Track II’ talks to help find a way forward on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the 2015 Iran nuclear deal is formally known.

The JCPOA was signed in 2015 between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany. Former US President Donald Trump illegally pulled out of the deal in 2018 while the current US President, Joe Biden, has signaled that he is ready to resurrect the agreement.

Russia, the UK, Germany, China, the US, and France have been in talks with Iran since April 2021 to reinstate the deal.

The talks to salvage the JCPOA kicked off in the Austrian capital of Vienna in April 2021, with the intention of examining Washington’s seriousness in rejoining the deal and removing anti-Iran sanctions.

The negotiations have been at a standstill since August due to Washington’s insistence on its hard-nosed position of not removing all the sanctions that were slapped on the Islamic Republic by the previous US administration. Iran maintains it is necessary for the other side to offer some guarantees that it will remain committed to any agreement that is reached.

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