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Iran says nuclear talks at ‘critical’ stage, ‘optimistic’ about chances for deal

As agreement seems to come together, top diplomat says Tehran won’t give up its ‘red lines’ in negotiations

Chief Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani arrives at the Coburg Palace, venue of the talks aimed at reviving the Iran nuclear deal, in Vienna, on February 8, 2022. (Alex Halada/AFP)
Chief Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani arrives at the Coburg Palace, venue of the talks aimed at reviving the Iran nuclear deal, in Vienna, on February 8, 2022. (Alex Halada/AFP)

TEHRAN, Iran — Negotiations to revive the Iran nuclear deal have entered a “critical” stage during which some key issues still need to be resolved, Tehran’s top diplomat said on Wednesday.

The 2015 accord had offered Iran sanctions relief in return for curbs on its nuclear program, but the US unilaterally withdrew in 2018 under then-US president Donald Trump.

Western powers that have been locked in nuclear talks with Iran have said in the past week that a deal was within reach while stressing the ball was in the Islamic republic’s court.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said on Wednesday that the negotiations had “reached a critical and important stage.”

“We hope that some sensitive and important issues remaining in the negotiations will be resolved in the coming days with realism from the Western side,” he said at a joint press conference with his Omani counterpart, Sayyid Badr al-Busaidi.

Amir-Abdollahian said he was “optimistic” about a deal, while insisting Iran would not give up its “red lines” in the negotiations. He did not elaborate.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian speaks during a press conference in Moscow, Russia, on August 3, 2012. (AP/Misha Japaridze)

The Vienna talks, which involve Iran, as well as Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia directly, and the US indirectly, resumed in November.

In recent days, progress in the negotiations has been reported by France, Germany, the US, and even Iran.

Signs of an agreement coming together emerged over the past week, with France warning that Iran has just days left to accept a deal.

“It is not a question of weeks, it is a question of days,” said its Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

“We need political decisions from the Iranians. They have a very clear choice,” he told the French Senate on February 16.

Two days later, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the process had reached “the moment of truth.”

He said there “was the chance to reach an agreement that will allow sanctions to be lifted” but also warned that the talks could still collapse.

Most recently, Iran’s sworn enemy Israel said on Sunday that a deal may be agreed soon while warning that it would be “weaker” than the original 2015 agreement.

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