Sep 21, 2021 - World

Iran officials ready to restart nuclear talks with world powers

President of Iran Ebrahim Raisi addresses the participants via video conference at the 76th session of United Nations General Assembly, in New York, United States on September 21

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi addresses the participants via video conference at the 76th session of United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 21. Photo: Iranian Presidency/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Iranian officials said Tuesday they expect nuclear talks with world powers to resume in the "next few weeks," but they signaled they would take a tougher stance against the U.S, per the state-run IRNA news agency.

Why it matters: The talks to salvage the 2015 Iran nuclear deal have been stalled since June, when hardliner President Ebrahim Raisi was elected to office.

State of play: Iran's foreign ministry said Tuesday that it would soon resume discussion on potentially resurrecting the deal, though it did not offer specifics.

  • "As previously emphasized, the Vienna talks will resume soon and over the next few weeks," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh said, according to IRNA.

Yes, but: Raisi made clear Iran's more hardline negotiating stance in an address to the U.N. General Assembly Tuesday while saying that his government would resume talks with the aim of lifting U.S. sanctions on Iran.

  • "The Islamic Republic considers the useful talks whose ultimate outcome is the lifting of all oppressive sanctions," Raisi said in his pre-recorded address.
  • Raisi said that U.S. sanctions, "especially sanctions on medicine at the time of the COVID-19 pandemic," were "crimes against humanity."

The big picture: The U.S. pulled out of the Iran deal in 2018 during negotiations with the Trump administration, and Iranian government officials then violated the limits placed on its nuclear program.

  • In his speech to the UNGA Tuesday, President Biden said his administration aimed for a return to the 2015 deal. "We’re prepared to return to full compliance if Iran does the same," he added.
  • The U.S. has offered to lift the majority of economic sanctions tied to noncompliance with the 2015 deal, if a deal is renewed, but not those linked to human rights abuses, per the Guardian.

Of note: Iranian officials were in Vienna this week for the International Atomic Energy Agency General Conference, where they continued to call for the U.S. to lift sanctions.

  • The IAEA reached an agreement with the Iranian officials earlier this month that allowed the United Nations' nuclear watchdog group to provide upkeep on its monitoring cameras at Iranian nuclear sites.
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