Blinken talks to Lavrov about Iran and sees short window of opportunity to reach nuclear deal – Archyde

GENEVA (Reuters) – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he spoke to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov about Iran on Friday and warned there was only a short window of opportunity before talks to salvage the 2015 Iran nuclear deal bring to a successful conclusion.

US Secretary of State Blinken addresses the media in Geneva

US Secretary of State Blinken addresses the media in Geneva

Blinken told reporters the deal is an example of how Moscow and Washington can work together on security issues, and urged Russia to use its influence and relationship with Iran to give Tehran a sense of urgency.

Blinken said there was still a window to return to the deal – which had been unraveling since 2018 when then-US President Donald Trump abandoned it – but warned Tehran’s ongoing nuclear advances would thwart any return to the deal if no new pact would be concluded in coming weeks.

US Secretary of State Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov are holding talks in Geneva

US Secretary of State Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov are holding talks in Geneva

“Talks with Iran on a mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA have reached a pivotal moment,” Blinken said, referring to the deal, dubbed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

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“If no agreement is reached in the next few weeks, Iran’s continued nuclear advances will make a return to the JCPOA impossible. But for now there is still a window, a short one, to bring these talks to a successful conclusion and to address the remaining concerns on all sides.”

The deal between Iran and world powers lifted sanctions on Tehran in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear activities.

US President Joe Biden’s administration and its European allies said Thursday it was only a matter of weeks before the deal was salvaged after the latest round of talks, in which a French diplomatic source said there was no progress on key issues given.

Indirect talks between Iran and the United States on reviving the deal resumed two months ago.

Separately, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said on Twitter that in talks with Lavrov he had discussed Russia stepping up construction of new power plants in Iran.

Iran’s Atomic Energy Agency said on Friday that Russia’s construction of the second and third units of its Bushehr power plant is progressing in line with Iran’s plan to generate at least 10,000 megawatts of electricity from nuclear power.

“The implementation process is proceeding on the basis of the plan and almost without delay, despite delays in financial payments,” Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for the Iranian Atomic Energy Agency, told the state news agency IRNA.

Iran, which according to media reports owes Russia at least $500 million for the Bushehr project, blames US sanctions for delays in paying off the debt.

(Reporting by Simon Lewis in Geneva, additional reporting by Dubai Newsroom; writing by Daphne Psaledakis and Susan Heavey in Washington; editing by Mark Heinrich and Grant McCool)

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