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EU foreign policy chief says Iran deal now on table is best one possible

Josep Borrell argues strategy of using harsh sanctions against Iranian regime failed, says parties to talks have ‘joint responsibility’ to sign pact

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell speaks with the media as he arrives for an EU summit in Brussels, on June 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell speaks with the media as he arrives for an EU summit in Brussels, on June 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)

The EU’s foreign policy chief said Tuesday he has submitted a draft text of a deal on Iran’s nuclear program, urging parties to accept it or “risk a dangerous nuclear crisis.”

Josep Borrell said the current text of the Iran nuclear deal is the best possible outcome and should be implemented as soon as possible.

Writing in an op-ed in The Financial Times, Borrell said that after more than a year of negotiations, the sides have reached “the best possible deal that I, as facilitator of the negotiations, see as feasible.”

The diplomat wrote that “the space for additional significant compromises has been exhausted.”

Josep Borrell has been heavily involved in the nuclear talks between Iran and the West. He traveled to Tehran in June in order to restart negotiations that had been stalled since March.

The 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) gave Iran relief from sanctions in return for limits on its nuclear program to prevent it from obtaining nuclear weapons, a goal Iran denies it seeks. The pact steadily unraveled after the Trump administration pulled the US out in 2018 and slapped Iran with stiff sanctions — a move that Israel enthusiastically supported.

In response, Iran dropped its own commitments to the deal, boosting the program and increasing uranium enrichment beyond levels set in the deal. Borrell, therefore, contended that Trump’s “maximum pressure” strategy had not succeeded.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian (right) attends a press conference with Josep Borrell, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy at the Foreign Ministry headquarters in Iran’s capital Tehran, June 25, 2022. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

Borrell wrote that the deal currently on the table “is not a perfect agreement, but it addresses all essential elements and includes hard-won compromises by all sides.”

Borrell urged parties to the talks to “seize this unique opportunity to succeed, and to free up the great potential of a fully implemented deal I see no other comprehensive or effective alternative within reach.”

The top EU diplomat expressed concern that a “dangerous nuclear crisis” could result if the agreement is rejected, and that those involved in negotiations have a “joint responsibility” to ink an agreement.

Talks in Vienna earlier this year aimed to bring the US back into the JCPOA and Iran back into accordance with its terms, but the negotiations have been stuck for months amid a standoff between Washington and Iran over divisions outside the nuclear issue.

One of the main sticking points is Iran’s demand that the US remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard from its list of foreign terror organizations, which US President Joe Biden has so far refused to do.

Earlier on Tuesday, Defense Minister Benny Gantz warned that reviving a 2015 pact with world powers to curb Iranian nuclear activities will only be a delaying tactic, and claimed Israel could “seriously harm and delay the nuclear [program].”

Gantz’s remarks came after earlier this week Iranian media reported the alleged capture of an Israeli-backed network of spies who were about to carry out a bomb attack on a “sensitive site” in Isfahan. Some Israeli outlets noted that the province is home to the Natanz nuclear plant, which has been targeted in attacks blamed by Tehran on Israel.

Israel has repeatedly said it reserves the right to act independently against Iran’s nuclear facilities to prevent an existential threat to the Jewish state.

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