Irish Foreign Minister in Iran as UN facilitator for nuclear deal talks

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney visited Iran on Monday to discuss the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal. [EPA-EFE / FILIP SINGER]

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney visited Iran on Monday to discuss the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal.

Ireland, which is halfway through its two-year term as an elected member of the UN Security Council, has been appointed as the body’s facilitator of Resolution 2231, which underpins the JCPOA.

Under the terms of the deal reached in 2015, Iran committed to limiting its nuclear production and allowing international monitoring of its nuclear facilities in exchange for the lifting of many international sanctions.

In 2018, however, US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the deal and reinstated many of these sanctions, after which Iran restarted some of its nuclear activity in response. Talks on reviving the deal recommenced in Vienna in April 2021, with the latest negotiations beginning this week.

“Over the past year, I have engaged extensively with all the key actors to encourage a return to full implementation of the agreement”, Coveney said ahead of his arrival at the discussions, which he added had reached “an extremely important stage.”

“Iran’s continued advances in its nuclear programme and reduction in cooperation with international inspectors have caused grave concern in the region and beyond”, he said. “A much better alternative is on the table,” he added.

On Monday, Coveney met with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, who said that “the rights of the Iranian people must be respected” within the negotiations, TV network France24 reported

“We are serious and ready to reach a good agreement”, Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said during a joint press conference with Coveney. The agreement can soon be reached as long as the US and Europe were “serious” about returning to full compliance with the deal, he added.

“I do believe that the other parties to the JCPOA, in particular Western countries, are deeply committed to making this work”, Coveney said, adding that “the restoration of the JCPOA in full would secure rapid and substantial sanction relief for Iran.”

“Our goal is the full removal of all JCPOA sanctions”, said Amir-Abdollahian. “It is better for the Islamic republic to reach an agreement today rather than tomorrow.”

(Molly Killeen | EURACTIV.com)

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