Europe’s hardline strategy against Iran, imposing tough sanctions that were also adopted by Canada on Tuesday, may already be bearing fruit.
Iran has already indicated it can resume technical discussions straight away on its nuclear programme, and it is ready to resume full talks in September.
It was left to the EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton to announce the tightening of the screws.
“Our objective remains, as I have always said, to persuade Iranian leaders that their interest was to return to the table,” she said. “Sanctions are not an end in themselves.”
Iran’s envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, announced Iran would attach no conditions to returning to the talks, and he presented a letter to the agency putting the offer in writing.
While Iran is dangling the carrot of accepting a fuel swap, it is far from certain they will be prepared to give up their enrichment programme, which is the main objective of the West. However, Tehran did stress the EU’s new sanctions would only “complicate” the situation.