Iran’s chief negotiator, Ali Bagheri Kani, met with Enrique Mora, the European Union coordinator for the Vienna talks, in Madrid on Friday, the state-run ISNA news agency reported.
The agency said that Bagheri Kani, who started a European tour on Tuesday, held talks with the EU official on measure to lift US sanctions on Iran.
The meeting comes after discussions held by Bagheri in France, Germany and Britain, which focused on resuming the nuclear talks on Nov. 29. The three countries demanded that Iran cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and quickly return to the 2015 nuclear agreement.
“If the other side engages in a serious and positive approach to the Vienna nuclear talks, it will be possible to reach a good agreement in the short term,” Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian wrote on Instagram.
The head of IAEA expressed “surprise” that the new Iranian government did not communicate with the agency on many important outstanding issues since it took power.
Rafael Grossi had hoped to visit Iran before the next meeting of the Agency’s Board of Governors, which begins on Nov. 22, but expressed disappointment on Friday for not receiving an invitation.
In an interview with The Guardian, Bagheri Kani stressed that the nuclear deal has a specific framework and is not related to other issues.
“We will not negotiate over defense capabilities or our security,” he said, adding that Iran needed the US commitment not to abandon the nuclear agreement signed with world powers.
Meanwhile, the British Foreign Office issued a statement saying that Bagheri Kani visited London to meet with senior government officials who told him that Iran should seize the opportunity to conclude a deal on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA).
“FCDO representatives reiterated that Iran should take the opportunity to conclude the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) deal on the table now,” the statement said.
Officials and analysts say Iran will take a hard line approach when resuming nuclear talks with world powers, as it is betting on obtaining widespread sanctions relief in return for restrictions on its increasingly advanced nuclear technology.
Analysts add that ultra-conservatives in Iran, led by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, believe that a hardline approach could force Washington to accept Tehran’s demands.
Iran had started violating the nuclear restrictions stipulated in the agreement in response to the decision of former US President Donald Trump in 2018 to withdraw from the JCPoA and re-impose severe sanctions that weakened the Iranian economy.
In a clear attempt to pressure US President Joe Biden to lift the sanctions, Iran accelerated its violations by rebuilding its stockpiles of enriched uranium, purifying it to a higher degree and installing advanced centrifuges to speed up production.
“Our nuclear facilities are up and running … We can live with or without the deal… The ball is in their court,” a hardline Iranian official told Reuters.
The agency also quoted two Iranian officials close to the country’s power center as saying that the fact that indirect talks between Tehran and Washington paused after the June election of hardline President Ebrahim Raisi signaled that the likelihood of failure was greater than chances of success of the negotiations.