Iran studying EU proposal for informal talks with P4+1, US

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Iran is considering the European Union's offer to attend an informal meeting between Iran and other parties to the 2015 nuclear deal, with Washington also attending as a guest, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said.

"We are now considering (the EU's chief diplomat) Josep Borrell's proposal and are consulting with other friends and partners," Araqchi said on Saturday evening in an interview on state TV.

On Friday, an EU senior official said the EU was working to organize such an informal meeting, after Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif suggested earlier that the EU's chief diplomat Josep Borrell could coordinate a synchronized return of both Tehran and Washington to the commitment with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Araqchi reiterated Tehran's position that, in principle, "the return of the U.S. to JCPOA, the implementation of its commitments, and the lifting of sanctions do not require negotiations."

The Iranian deputy minister insisted that Iran will not negotiate its military capabilities or its regional policy, but voiced Tehran's determination to put other issues on the table if and after the U.S. becomes a JCPOA participant again after lifting sanctions against Iran.

Commenting on the current visit of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi to Tehran, Araqchi stressed that the journey has no relation to Tehran's parliament-mandated decision to stop the "voluntary implementation" of the IAEA's Additional Protocol on Feb. 23.

"Grossi himself expressed interest in coming to Iran to establish a new type of cooperation between Iran and the IAEA in this situation, so that the cooperation between the two will suffer the least damage," he elaborated.

Regarding the state of the IAEA inspections of Iran's nuclear program after Feb. 23, the deputy minister insisted that inspections will continue, but the agency's oversight capacity "will be reduced by about 20 to 30 percent."

Iran's parliament approved in December 2020 a Strategic Action Plan (to Counter Sanctions) mandating the Iranian government to re-launch 20-percent uranium enrichment, then stop implementing the IAEA's additional protocol if sanctions on Iran that should be lifted under JCPOA continues to be in place.

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