JEDDAH: Negotiators trying to revive the collapsed nuclear deal with Iran are close to a draft agreement, leading envoys said on Monday.
Talks are continuing in Vienna aimed at rescuing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the deal with world powers to curb Tehran’s nuclear program in return for the lifting of sanctions.
“We can note with satisfaction that the negotiations entered the drafting stage,” the Russian Ambassador to Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov, said on Monday. “Practical solutions are still far away, but we have moved from general words to agreeing on specific steps toward the goal.”
The EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, said his political director Enrique Mora, who is chairing the talks, had gone back to Vienna after returning to Brussels on Friday. “I think there is real goodwill … to reach an agreement, and that’s good news,” Borrell said.
“I think the parties are really interested in reaching an agreement, and they have been moving from general to more focused issues, which are clearly, on one side sanction lifting, and on the other side nuclear implementation issues.”
The JCPOA has been on life support since 2018, when the US withdrew from the deal and reimposed sanctions, and Iran began enriching fissile uranium beyond the limits permitted by the deal.
New US President Joe Biden has offered to ease sanctions when Iran returns to compliance with the agreement, but Tehran insists the US must act first.
The second round of talks to resolve the standoff began last Thursday in the basement of a luxury hotel in Vienna. The US is not present as Iran has declined face-to-face negotiations, but EU officials are carrying out shuttle diplomacy with a US delegation in another hotel across the road.
A temporary deal could be a way to gain time for a lasting settlement, Iranian officials said on Monday.
“We are on the right track and some progress has been made, but this does not mean that the talks in Vienna have reached the final stage,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said.
“What is being discussed for the near term is the main outlines of an interim deal to give all sides more time to resolve complicated technical issues.”