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EU drops ‘final’ text to revive Iran nuclear deal

The European Union said on Monday it had submitted a “final” text to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal as four days of indirect talks between US and Iranian officials ended in Vienna.

“What can be negotiated has been negotiated and it is now in the final text. Behind every technical point and every paragraph, however, lies a political decision that needs to be made in the capitals,” tweeted Josep Borrell, EU foreign policy chief.

“If these answers are positive, then we can sign this deal,” he added as the EU, Iran and the US prepared to leave Vienna.

Earlier, a senior EU official had told reporters that no further changes could be made to the text, which has been under negotiation for 15 months, and said he expected a final decision from the parties within “a very, very few weeks”.

“It’s a package deal … You can’t agree with page 20 and disagree with page 50. You have to say yes or no,” he said.

A US State Department spokesman said Washington was ready to quickly reach an agreement to revive the deal, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), based on the EU’s proposals.

Iranian officials suggested they did not see the EU proposals as final and said they would present their “additional views and perspectives” to the European Union, which is coordinating the talks, after consultations in Tehran.

Iran has also made demands that the United States and other Western powers see as outside the scope of reviving the deal.

For example, Iran has demanded that the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, drop its claims that Iran has not fully accounted for the traces of uranium at unspecified locations.

Each side tried to put the responsibility on the other to make compromises.

“They (Iran) repeatedly say they are ready to return to mutual implementation of the JCPOA. Let’s see if their actions live up to their words,” the US spokesman said.

Iran and six major powers originally struck the deal in 2015, agreeing to limit its nuclear program to make it harder to use it to develop nuclear weapons – an ambition it denies – in exchange for relief from US, EU and UN sanctions.

In 2018, then-US President Donald Trump pulled out of the deal and reimposed tough US sanctions aimed at stifling Iran’s oil exports, the main source of export earnings and government revenue.

In response, Tehran – which says its nuclear program is for power generation and other peaceful purposes – began about a year later to violate the deal in various ways, including rebuilding its stockpile of enriched uranium.

It has also enriched uranium to 60% purity – well above the 3.67% allowed under the treaty but below the 90% considered weapons grade.

US President Joe Biden has been trying to revive the deal since taking office in January 2021, and negotiations – indirectly because Iran refuses to deal directly with the US on the issue – began in Vienna in April 2021.

Iran has also sought assurances that no future US president would reject the deal if it were revived, as Trump did in 2018. Washington cannot provide such ironclad assurances because the deal is a political understanding rather than a legally binding treaty.

Iranian state media hinted at the issue on Monday.

“The final agreement must guarantee the rights and interests of the Iranian people and ensure the effective and permanent lifting of sanctions,” Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian told Borrell in a phone call, according to state media.

EU drops ‘final’ text to revive Iran nuclear deal

Source link EU drops ‘final’ text to revive Iran nuclear deal

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