Saudi Arabia would welcome a return to the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, but that would “only be the first step” in addressing Tehran’s malign behavior, Riyadh’s top diplomat said Thursday.
“As previously announced, we continue to support a return to the deal. But we see it as incomplete; any return [to the JCPOA] should be only the first step towards a longer and stronger deal,” Prince Faisal bin Farhan said in televised remarks.
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The US and Iran have been engaged in indirect talks over returning to the now-defunct JCPOA, which former US President Donald Trump withdrew from.
Iran is demanding the lifting of all US sanctions before returning to the deal in exchange for a cap on its nuclear program. The previous agreement, brokered by former President Barack Obama, failed to address Iran’s support for militias across the region and its ballistic missile program.
The talks also excluded regional countries that are endangered by Iran.
“The current deal doesn’t protect us from an Iranian nuclear or military capability,” Prince Faisal said.
US Special Envoy for Iran Rob Malley, who is leading the US delegation in Vienna, said that he held “another constructive conversation with GCC partners” this week.
“We remain united in our call for a rapid return to mutual JCPOA compliance. This is the best avenue to strengthen regional economic ties and avoid nuclear crisis. We will remain in close consultation,” Malley tweeted on Wednesday.The Saudi foreign minister said it was still to be determined if a deal would be reached.
“In the event that a deal is reached… it’s only [one] step towards the security and stability of the region,” he said, explaining that Iran’s nuclear program, its ballistic missile program, “and other movements in the region jeopardize security.”