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EU says studying Iran response to ‘final’ nuclear text

Published : 16 Aug 2022 09:18 PM

The European Union said Tuesday it was studying Iran's response to a "final" draft agreement on reviving a 2015 nuclear accord with major powers it presented at talks in Vienna.

The United States had already said Monday that it was informing EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell of its response to the text he submitted on August 8.

The possibility of a deal which might lead to the lifting of US sanctions on Iran's oil output of 2.5 million barrels per day has already helped trigger a fall in prices on world markets, with US oil futures dropping nearly three percent to finish below $90 a barrel.

A spokesperson for Borrell -- who coordinated talks to bring Iran and the United States back into the deal -- said the Iranian response was received late Monday and the EU was consulting with the United States and the other 

parties "on the way ahead".

"Everybody is studying the response and this is not the time for the moment  to speculate on timing," Borrell's spokesperson Nabila Massrali later told a  press briefing.

Iran's official IRNA news agency reported earlier Tuesday that "an agreement  will be concluded if the United States reacts with realism and flexibility"  to Iran's response.

Iran's ISNA news agency cited an "informed source" as saying that Tehran  "expects to receive the response of the other side in the next two days".

IRNA had said Friday that Iran might accept the "final" text drawn up by the  European Union to save the deal, which aimed to curb Iran's nuclear programme  in return for sanctions relief.

The deal has been moribund since the 2018 withdrawal of the United States  under then president Donald Trump whose administration reimposed crippling  sanctions. 

An unidentified Iranian diplomat said, according to IRNA, that "the European  Union's proposals are acceptable provided that they provide assurances to  Iran on various points, related to sanctions and safeguards" as well as  pending issues with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

IRNA said that the remaining differences centred on three issues.

"The United States has expressed flexibility on two of them verbally but that  needs to be incorporated into the text," the news agency said without  elaborating.

"The third issue has to do with a guarantee that the deal will be lasting,  and that depends on realism from the United States to reassure Iran."

None of the parties have spelt out in details the points of contention that  are still blocking a deal.

Iran's demand for an end to US blacklisting of its ideological army, the  Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, as a "terrorist organisation" has been  dropped from the discussions and will instead be handled after the deal, a  senior EU official said earlier this month.

The official said progress had also been made on Tehran's call for guarantees  that there will be no repeat of Washington reneging on the deal as it did  under Trump in 2018.

Tehran and Washington still have to agree on "issues related to sanctions  lifting and a couple of nuclear questions that did not exist in March as the  Iranians advanced their programme", the EU official said.

Iran also wants the UN nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, to end its long-running  investigation into traces of enriched uranium found at sites not declared as  having hosted nuclear activities.

Britain, China, France, Germany, Iran and Russia, as well as the United  States indirectly, resumed talks on the nuclear accord earlier in August  after a months-long hiatus.

The EU-coordinated negotiations to revive the deal known as the JCPOA began  in April 2021 before coming to a standstill in March.

The EU said last Tuesday it expected Tehran and Washington to "very quickly"  respond to the "final" text aimed at salvaging the deal.

Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said that, after the lengthy  negotiations, "what counts for us is verification" that sanctions are lifted  in practice.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said it was up to Iran to make a  final deal, rejecting reported demands that are outside the scope of the  negotiations.

"We do believe that what could be negotiated has been negotiated, and we're  prepared to affect a mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA," said Price.