US hopes Iran will 'engage' after Europeans drop censure

US hopes Iran will 'engage' after Europeans drop nuclear censure plan
3 min read
State Department spokesman Ned Price said the United States was "pleased" that the Europeans withdrew a plan to censure Iran at the International Atomic Energy Agency's meeting in Vienna.

Europe's E3 nations dropped the plan [Getty]

The United States on Thursday said it hoped Iran would "engage" in diplomacy after European allies dropped a plan to censure Tehran at the UN nuclear watchdog.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said the United States was "pleased" that the Europeans withdrew the measure at the International Atomic Energy Agency's meeting in Vienna.

"We will look forward with strong interest for Iran's willingness to engage in a way that leads to credible, concrete progress," Price told reporters.

The Europeans had planned to submit a resolution that would criticise Tehran's level of compliance with inspections but dropped the move amid efforts by IAEA chief Rafael Grossi to reach a compromise with Iran.

"We have decided to not present the resolution," the German foreign ministry said, confirming information from diplomatic sources. 

"Iran must now prove that it is serious in its wish to fully relaunch" the  nuclear deal," it added.

One source pointed to "initiatives undertaken by (IAEA Director General Rafael) Grossi" and signs of "good faith" on the Iranian side to explain the decision to drop the resolution, which had not been formally submitted.

The step came after Iran had said the time was not right for an offered meeting with the United States under EU auspices on salvaging a 2015 denuclearisation accord.

"We have stated very clearly that what we are prepared to do is to engage in constructive dialogue. That is the offer that's been on the table," Price said.

Iran has insisted that it will not return to full compliance until the United States lifts sanctions imposed by former president Donald Trump.

On Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the United States would ease sanctions as part of Iran returning to the deal.

"We've been very clear that Iran has to come back into compliance with its obligations under the nuclear agreement, and if it does, we'll do the same thing," Blinken told PBS Newshour.

"And that would involve, if they do it, some sanctions relief.”

'Wisdom prevails'

A French diplomatic source said "encouraging signs" from the Iranians would not have been achieved "if the threat of the resolution hadn't been maintained until the end. 

"Things are going in the right direction," the diplomat said, adding that it was hoped a meeting proposed by the EU of the remaining 2015 participants - Iran, France, Germany, Russia, China and the UK - could take place within two weeks, with Brussels the likely venue.

Iran welcomed the European decision not to go ahead with a resolution.

"Today's developments can keep open the path of diplomacy initiated by Iran and the IAEA," Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said.

"Iran hopes the parties participating in the agreement can seize this opportunity, with serious cooperation, to ensure the full implementation of the agreement by all," he added.

Russia and China also hailed the news.

Moscow's Ambassador to the IAEA Mikhail Ulyanov said the resolution "could have led to uncontrolled escalation". 

"Now diplomacy has a real chance to succeed," he tweeted.

US President Joe Biden has said he is willing to bring the United States back to the landmark 2015 deal, known as the JCPOA.

It has been unravelling since Donald Trump pulled the US out of the agreement in 2018.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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