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EU foreign affairs chief sounds optimistic on possibility of meeting to revive nuclear agreement with Iran

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EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell (pictured) sounded quite optimistic Monday about the possibility of a EU-led meeting to revive the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, after a video conference between the 27 EU Foreign Ministers and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. It was the first such conversation on various world issues with the top US diplomat since the Biden administration took office, writes Yossi Lempkowicz.

‘’I hope that in the next days there will be news,’’ said Borrell at a press conference after the Foreign Affairs Council meeting.

He added, ‘’We discussed the worrying recent developments in the nuclear field. We need to bring back full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the 2015 nuclear deal between world powers and IRAN, both as regards nuclear commitments and when it comes to sanctions lifting. This is the only way forward, and is in the interest of global and regional security.’’

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The US under former President Trump left the JCPOA in 2018 and reimposed tough sanctions on Iran. Since then, Tehran has intensified its uranium enrichment

But last week, the Biden administration offered to talk to Iran under the aegis of the European Union in an effort to revive the nuclear deal.

“We are of course concerned that Iran has over time moved away from its commitments under the JCPOA. There is now a proposition on the table; If Iran returns to full compliance, we will be prepared to do the same,” US State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters.

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Borrell said that ‘’intense diplomatic contacts’’ are ongoing these days, including with the United States. ‘’As JCPOA Coordinator, it is my job to help create space for diplomacy and to find solutions. And the work on this is ongoing. I informed the Ministers and I hope that in the next days there will be news,’’ he said.

Borell called the discussion with Blinken ‘’very positive’’. ‘’The next days and weeks will prove that working together (with the US) delivers,’’ he said.

The US State Department spokesperson said Blinken ‘’highlighted the United States’ commitment to repairing, revitalizing, and raising the level of ambition in the US-EU relationship.’’

Borrell noted that the International Atomic Energy Agency has reached a temporary technical understanding with Iran that ‘’will allow a sufficient level of monitoring and verification in the coming months.’’  ‘’This gives us a window of opportunity and time, the time needed in order to try to reinvigorate the JCPOA,’’ he said as Tehran has increased its use of advanced centrifuges and begun producing  quantities of uranium metal, essential for building nuclear warheads.

Tehran has threatened to expel inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) visiting the nuclear facilities this week.

The U.S. announcement that it was ready to talk directly with Iran on reviving the 2015 nuclear agreement was met with concern in Israel, amid accelerating Iranian breaches of the deal’s limits on its nuclear activities.

“Israel remains committed to preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons and its position on the nuclear agreement has not changed,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office on Friday. “Israel believes that going back to the old agreement will pave Iran’s path to a nuclear arsenal. Israel is in close contact with the United States on this matter.”

“With or without an agreement,” he added, “we will do everything so Iran isn’t armed with nuclear weapons,” he said.

Israel views the E3, the three  European countries who are part of the nuclear deal with Iran-  France, Germany and the UK – as more open to the Israeli position in recent months, according to a report by KAN, the Israeli public broadcasting channel, due to Iran’s repeated violations of the deal’s limitations. The E3 have pointed out that Iran’s announcement of more uranium enrichment and production of uranium metal have no credible civilian use.

Israel has increased pressure on the E3 to try to talk them out of rejoining the old Iran deal, KAN reported.

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Iran ‘We are at a critical point in time’ EU High Representative

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Following today’s (18 October) Foreign Affairs Council. The EU’s High Representative Josep Borrell said that the JCPOA  (‘Iran Nuclear Deal’ - Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action)) was at a critical point in time. 

Borrell reported that he had spoken with the new Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian at the UN General Assembly and that the European External Action Service team had met with the negotiation team in Tehran. He dispelled rumours that there was going to be meeting in Thursday this week. 

“Everybody’s determined to get it back on track,” said Borrell. “We are working hard to go back to Vienna, but we also made it clear to the Iranians that time is not on their side.”

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Iran: Call for justice

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Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran

Iran has been a complicated challenge for the international community in the past decades. Since 2003 that the National Council of Resistance of Iran (the opposition movement to the Ayatollah) revealed Iranian regime secrete nuclear program, this subject has formed the core policy of the EU and the US towards Iran. Iranian regime nuclear program usually appears on the headlines, although negotiations have been held in a disappointing atmosphere for several years. Despite an international wave to describe JCPOA as an achievement the deal had almost no guarantee from both sides. The former US president withdrew from the deal with a stroke of a pen and the Iranian regime reinitiated uranium enrichment to above 60% within few months. Still, a neutral observer affirms the EU and the US efforts to revive the deal even with providing concessions to the Iranian regime, writes Ali Bagheri.

The blockage in Iran nuclear deal is not because of the EU and the US bad intentions, or because Iran has no interest in negotiations. The failure of diplomacy between western powers and the Iranian regime has a deep and historical root in the Iranian society. On July 14, 2015, Maryam Rajavi (pictured), president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, stated that any agreement that disregards and fails to underscore the Iranian people’s human rights will only embolden the regime in its suppression and relentless executions. Today, six years after the signature of JCPOA, it is almost evident that the deal is failed and both sides are not capable to form an agreement, and this is due to the missing point as is it was stated in Maryam Rajavi’s message which is the human rights of the people of Iran.

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If someone digs the contemporary history of Iran, a bloody war between Iranian people and the governing regimes for freedom and democracy forms the backbone of the social developments. This internal war has a direct influence on Iranian regime external policy. Iranian regime has thirst to equip its foreign bodies with wars, terrorism, and nuclear weapon to push back the international community whenever it needs to suppress the internal war, in other words the people of Iran.

For instance, the 8 years Iran-Iraq war was a cover to suppress the growing opposition against the establishment of Islamic Republic. On the top of all the crimes committed by Iranian regime officials, there is the 1988 Massacre when 30000 political prisoners, mainly MEK supporters were executed in a deafening international silence. This internal war can be addressed in every moment of the contemporary history of Iran.

Martin Luther King, Jr. once stated “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Truly, “Justice” is the last battlefield that Iranian people and their opposition are working extensively to change the policy in Europe and the US towards Iran. Although supporters of appeasement policy recognize no boarders to deal with murderer mullahs, Iranian people and their resistance trapped both the Iranian regime and the appeasement policy supporters in the hands of justice. This is the place that there is no way out.

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In June 2018, when the Iranian diplomat terrorist was arrested for a foiled terrorist attack in Paris, the news covered the headlines all around the world. It was a case that Iranian regime clearly plotted a terrorist attack against the democratic opposition of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, NCRI. Despite an extensive effort by the Iranian regime to swap the Iranian diplomat terrorist with the Iranian-Swedish professor jailed in Evin prison, the definitiveness of Antwerp court halted any intervention of political interest in European justice, that Belgian minister of Justice affirmed the independence of powers in Belgium.

Belgium is a small country, but it changed the playground, and it must be admired for its determination. These days, another European court in Sweden opened the case of one of the criminals of the 1988 massacre in Iran. Hamid Noury who was arrested in Arlanda airport in Stockholm was one of the staff during the massacre who was involved to operate the orders of death commission about prisoners. According to the witnesses, he participated in executions, and he distributed sweets when he executed the political prisoners. But the 1988 massacre does not ends here, the sitting president in Iran, Ebrahim Raisi, was a member of death commissions in Tehran, who personally ordered thousands of executions, and the conviction of Hamid Noury and the recognition of 1988 massacre in European courts would be the biggest challenge for Irnaian regime officials.

The case of the Iranian diplomat terrorist in Belgium and the case of Hamid Noury in Sweden might look different in their natures, but the federal prosecutor of Switzerland opened a recent investigation about the assassination of Dr. Kazem Rajavi who was killed 30 years ago in Geneva. The federal prosecutor in Switzerland runs the new investigations about this terror under the chart of genocide and crime against humanity. Because, at that time Dr. Kazem Rajavi was working on the case of 1988 massacre which happened less than a year before his assassination. Without no surprise, the terrorists who killed Dr. Rajavi were entered to Switzerland with diplomatic passports, and they were in contact with the Iranian regime office in Geneva. Therefore, without any hesitations Iranian regime uses its diplomatic apparatus to conduct terrorist attacks against its opposition.

In all these cases, Iranian regime never distances itself from terrorists and criminals. It remained loyal to its agents and terrorists and vice versa. However, the new era that the Iranian people and their resistance entered is not conditioned to political interests and deals. The Iranian opposition movement, MEK and NCRI, are defending their rights and the rights of the Iranian people by means of judicial power. It is the place that the supporters of appeasement policy and the Iranian regime have already lost. They cannot push for deals or political interests in the court, but they should mention their facts, and the fact is that the Iranian regime has a dark history of human right violations, crimes, and terrorism, as it has been stated in 69 UN resolutions for human rights violations in Iran. In conclusion, we entered a new political era which is founded on justice and human rights. It might take sometimes until Europe and US obey the new situation and stop pushing for deals with mullahs, but there is no chance that the Iranian regime can endure the pressure from the Iranian opposition and the protests by the Iranian people as much as it loses its supports from western countries.

Ali Bagheri is an energy engineer, PhD from University of Mons. He is an Iranian activist and an advocate for human rights and democracy in Iran.

Twitter: @Bagheri_Ali_

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EU’s Borrell: No ministerial meeting with Iran this week in New York

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EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell insisted that there will no ministerial meeting with Iran at the United Nations headquarters in New York this week to discuss a return to the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), contrary to what French Foreign Minister Yves Le Drian suggested, writes Yossi Lempkowicz.

Speaking to journalists, Borrell repeated several times that there would not be a meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission on Wednesday (22 September).

“Some years it happens, some years it doesn’t happen. It’s not in the agenda,” said Borrell, who acts as coordinator for the JCPOA.

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Le Drian said on Monday (20 September) that there would be a ministerial meeting of the nuclear deal parties.

“We need to take advantage of this week to restart these talks. Iran must accept to return as quickly as possible by appointing its representatives for the negotiations,” the French minister said.

The JCPOA Joint Commission, made up of Foreign Ministers from Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia and from Iran, had met in Vienna in order to discuss a return to the 2015 nuclear deal, but talks were adjourned in June after hardliner Ebrahim Raisi was elected Iran’s president.

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‘’The important thing is not this ministerial meeting, but the will of all parties to resume negotiations in Vienna,” said Borrell who was due to meet the new Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian in New York.

"I will have the first opportunity to know and to talk with the new Minister of Iran. And, certainly, during this meeting, I will call on Iran to resume the talks in Vienna as soon as possible," he added.

“After the elections (in Iran) the new presidency asked for the delay in order to take fully take stock of the negotiations and understand better everything about this very sensitive file,” Borrell said. “The summer has already passed by and we expect that the talks can be resuming soon in Vienna.”

The world powers held six rounds of indirect talks between the United States and Iran in Vienna to try and work out how both can return to compliance with the nuclear pact, which was abandoned by former US President Donald Trump in 2018.

Trump reimposed harsh sanctions on Iran, which then started breaching curbs on its nuclear programme. Tehran has said its nuclear program is for peaceful energy purposes only.

In his address to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, US President Joe Biden stressed his willingness to resume the 2015 deal if Iran complies with its terms. “The United States remains committed to preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon… We’re prepared to return to full compliance with the deal if Iran does the same,” he said.

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