Vienna: A senior EU diplomat said at the end of the latest round of negotiations on Sunday that the negotiators are “closer” to saving the Iran nuclear deal, but the crux of the matter still exists.
Enrique Mora speaks on the second day after the ultraconservative clergyman Ibrahim Raisy won the presidential election of the Islamic Republic.
Sunday’s meeting is part of the regular discussions since early April, aimed at bringing the United States back to the landmark 2015 agreement to allow Iran to regain its restrictions on its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of sanctions.
But it came a day after Raisi was declared the winner of Iran s presidential election, replacing moderate Hassan Rouhani.
“We are closer to a deal, but we are not still there,” EU negotiator Mora, who is chairing the talks, told reporters.
Mora added that he expects that in the next round of negotiations, “the delegations will come back from the capital to give clearer instructions and clearer ideas on how to finally reach a deal.”
He did not say when to resume negotiations, and pointed out that the main issue is still to find a solution in the “delicate balance” between lifting US sanctions on Iran and reversing Tehran’s intensified nuclear activities.
Mora said that the next round of negotiations will also “know more clearly” the “new political environment” in Iran, although he pointed out that despite the holding of elections, negotiations are still going on.
Iran’s special envoy and Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said before Sunday’s meeting that the negotiators were “closer than ever before to reach an agreement.
“But it is not an easy task to close the distance currently between us and an agreement,” he told Iran s national television.
“At this point, it is clear which fields, which actions are possible and which are not. Therefore, it is time for all sides, especially our counterparts, to be able to make their final decision.”
Araghchi could not say how many days the latest break would last.
Parties to the agreement — Britain, China, Germany, France, Russia and Iran — have been meeting in Vienna with indirect US participation to restore the deal, which promised Tehran sanctions relief in exchange for curtailing its nuclear programme.
They had hoped to finish the talks before the Iranian presidential election, but it had become clear recently that they would miss that target.
The agreement fell into chaos in 2018, when U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew and re-imposed sanctions, leading Iran to strengthen its nuclear activities starting in 2019.
In February, Tehran also suspended some inspections by the UN nuclear supervisory agency, forcing the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to continue negotiations, but access was reduced.
The latest understanding will expire on June 24.
“We continue to follow the issue. Iran is talking to the agency and to director general Rafael Grossi so we expect that they will reach an agreement and we can continue our negotiations in a good framework,” Mora said.