Iran raises possibility of meeting at UN assembly to revive nuclear deal

DUBAI (Reuters): Iran does not rule out the possibility of a meeting on the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly in New York on reviving its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said on Monday.

Months of indirect talks between Iran and the United States have foundered over several issues including Tehran’s insistence that the International Atomic Energy Agency close its investigation into uranium traces found at three undeclared sites before the pact is revived, and a US guarantee that it would not walk out of any nuclear agreement again.

“Ali Bagheri Kani, the chief nuclear negotiator, will be present at the…General Assembly as part of the delegation but there is no specific plan to discuss the nuclear deal. However, I do not rule out the possibility of talks regarding the nuclear deal,” Kanaani said.

He said Tehran had never left the negotiating table.

Kanaani, however, dismissed the possibility of a bilateral meeting between Iranian and US officials in New York. Tehran and Washington have had no diplomatic relations since 1979 and remain at odds over many issues.

In a CBS interview broadcast on Sunday, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said Tehran would be serious about reviving the nuclear pact if there were guarantees Washington would not again withdraw for it — as happened in 2018 under then-US President Donald Trump, who said the accord was too weak.

“If it’s a good deal and fair deal, we would be serious about reaching an agreement,” Raisi said.

The 2015 deal, under which Tehran restrained its disputed nuclear program in exchange for relief from international sanctions, has frayed badly since the US pull-out with Iran breaching its limits on uranium enrichment.

There has been no sign Tehran and Washington will manage to overcome their impasse but Iran is expected to use the UN General Assembly to keep the diplomatic ball rolling by repeating its willingness to reach a sustainable pact.