Iran, world powers to discuss possible U.S. return to nuclear deal

Representatives of China, France, Germany, Russia, Britain and Iran will meet virtually on Friday to discuss the possible return of the United States to the Iran nuclear deal, the European Union (EU) announced on Thursday.

In a statement, the EU announced a meeting of the parties to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the official name of the Iran nuclear deal. 

"Participants will discuss the prospect of a possible return of the U.S. to the JCPOA, and how to ensure the full and effective implementation of the agreement by all sides," it added. 

 U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters that "we obviously welcome this as a positive step." 

"We are ready to pursue a return to compliance with our JCPOA commitments consistent with Iran also doing the same," Price said.

The U.S. is speaking to partners "about the best way to achieve this, including through a series of initial mutual steps," he added.

The online meeting will be chaired by the deputy secretary general and political director of the European External Action Service (EEAS) Enrique Mora on behalf of EU High Representative Josep Borrell.

The JCPOA was reached in 2015 between Iran and the P5+1: the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – the U.S., China, Russia, the UK and France – plus Germany. As part of the deal, Tehran agreed to roll back parts of its nuclear weapons program in exchange for decreased economic sanctions.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump however withdrew the United States from the JCPOA in 2018 and tightened sanctions on Iran.

The U.S. and Iran have been in a standoff over reviving the nuclear deal. The Biden administration has said that if Iran returns to full compliance with the JCPOA, the U.S. would do the same. But Iran insists its compliance will only take place once U.S. sanctions are removed.

(With input from agencies)

(Cover: An Iranian flag is pictured at the UN headquarters in New York, January 8, 2020. /Xinhua)

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