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Europeans see return to Iran nuke deal coming together next week

Diplomats say negotiations for resumption of 2015 pact moving along, though some issues remain; top official dismisses UN atomic watchdog’s lack of access to sites as ‘not related’

Iran's Governor to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Kazem Gharib Abadi, Political deputy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran, Abbas Araghchi, and Deputy Secretary General and Political Director of the European External Action Service (EEAS), Enrique Mora leave the ‚Grand Hotel Vienna where closed-door nuclear talks take place in Vienna, Austria, Wednesday, June 2, 2021. (AP/Lisa Leutner)
Iran's Governor to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Kazem Gharib Abadi, Political deputy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran, Abbas Araghchi, and Deputy Secretary General and Political Director of the European External Action Service (EEAS), Enrique Mora leave the ‚Grand Hotel Vienna where closed-door nuclear talks take place in Vienna, Austria, Wednesday, June 2, 2021. (AP/Lisa Leutner)

VIENNA, Austria — European diplomats say the latest round of talks over Iran’s nuclear program has made progress, expressing hope that agreement could soon be reached for Tehran to comply with a 2015 deal aimed at curbing its atomic ambitions and also see the United States rejoin the accord.

Enrique Mora, the European Union official who chaired Wednesday’s talks in Vienna, said delegations from Russia, China, Germany, France, Britain, Iran and the US would return home to brief their governments and then meet again in the Austrian capital next week.

“I’m sure that the next round will be the one in which we will finally get the deal,” Mora told reporters after the meeting.

“There are a few political issues (and) there are a number of technical issues, again rather complex,” he added. “But I can say that they are fewer than they were one week ago. So we are (on) a good track.”

“I think every capital has to give a green light to their respective delegations to get the agreement, and I think that will be the case next week,” said Mora.

Other European diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity as they weren’t authorized to be quoted by name, described the talks in Vienna as “intense and productive,” but cautioned that they would become more difficult as delegates tackle harder issues.

In this handout provided by the EU Delegation in Vienna, representatives of the European Union, Iran and others attend the Iran nuclear talks at the Grand Hotel in the Austrian capital, April 15, 2021. (EU Delegation in Vienna via Getty Images, JTA)

While progress had been made and important aspects of a future deal had been hammered out, the diplomats said that tough decisions lie ahead and nothing would be agreed until everything was agreed.

Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), during a press conference at the agency’s headquarters in Vienna, Austria on May 24, 2021. (ALEX HALADA / AFP)

Asked about the United Nations’ atomic watchdog this week stating that it hasn’t been able to access data important to monitoring Iran’s nuclear program since late February, Mora said delegations had “taken note” of the report.

Iran started limiting inspections in a bid to put pressure on the government of U.S. President Joe Biden to lift crippling sanctions reimposed after then-President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, in 2018.

“It’s something that is not directly related to the negotiations of the JCPOA,” Mora said, referring to the UN atomic energy agency’s report that it had not had access to the monitoring data since February 23.

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