April 2 (UPI) — Iran, Russia, China, Britain, France, Germany and the European Union — all the remaining signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal — will meet Friday to discuss a potential return to the agreement for the United States.
Officials from all six nations and the European alliance will meet virtually to discuss the possibility, the EU said in a statement.
The EU agreed to preside over the meeting.
In February, Iran said the European Union could play a mediating role in the dispute with the United States over the Obama-era deal, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — which limits Tehran’s nuclear activity to the laboratory in exchange for sanctions relief.
Former President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the accord in 2018, calling it a “bad deal.” Last year, he reimposed economic sanctions on Iran that had been lifted as part of the agreement, while also adding a thousand new measures.
Since the U.S. withdrawal, all the other parties to the deal have expressed interest in saving the agreement.
After the U.S. withdrawal, Iran began enriching uranium to levels that were restricted under the deal and Tehran has signaled that it won’t return to compliance until the United States does.
President Joe Biden campaigned last year on a promise to rejoin the nuclear deal, saying that it had successfully limited Iran’s ability to produce a weapon. His administration now estimates that the amount of time needed for Iran to produce one nuclear device has been reduced from more than a year to only a few months.
Iran has shown interest in additional U.S. talks regarding the deal, but both countries insist the other take the first steps in negotiations. Biden’s administration has said sanctions will be lifted if Iran returns to compliance with uranium limits and inspections — but Tehran says it will only return once the sanctions are removed.
The White House welcomed Friday’s meeting, saying it could break through the stalemate.