US says its ready to ‘quickly conclude’ nuke deal with Iran on basis of EU proposal

State Department suggests deal’s restoration is in Tehran’s hands after EU submits ‘final text’ of drafted proposal; Iran expresses skepticism

The sun sets behind the Palais Coburg where closed-door nuclear talks take place in Vienna, Austria, August 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Florian Schroetter, File)
The sun sets behind the Palais Coburg where closed-door nuclear talks take place in Vienna, Austria, August 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Florian Schroetter, File)

The United States indicated on Monday it was prepared to “quickly” conclude a deal with Iran over its nuclear program, on the basis of a drafted agreement submitted earlier in the day by the European Union representatives in the negotiations.

“For our part, our position is clear: we stand ready to quickly conclude a deal on the basis of the EU’s proposals,” the State Department said, indicating the deal’s restoration was up to Iran.

“They (Iran) repeatedly say they are prepared for a return to mutual implementation,” the spokesperson added. “Let’s see if their actions match their words.”

Major power talks involving Britain, China, France, Germany, Iran and Russia, as well as the United States indirectly, and aimed at reviving an agreement over Tehran’s nuclear program resumed, on Thursday in Vienna, months after they had stalled.

The US, which abandoned the original nuclear deal four years ago under former president Donald Trump, described the tabled draft as “the best and only basis on which to reach a deal.”

The draft in question has been described by EU officials as a “final text,” with one official speaking on condition of anonymity saying “The negotiation is finished, it’s the final text… and it will not be renegotiated.”

“Now the ball is in the court of the capitals and we will see what happens,” the European official added. “No one is staying in Vienna.”

European Union’s foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell added on Twitter: “What can be negotiated has been negotiated,” adding, however, that “behind every technical issue and every paragraph lies a political decision that needs to be taken in the capitals.”

Illustrative: Secretary of State Antony Blinken, second left, meets with European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, right, at the Sokha Hotel in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, August 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)

Key challenges to closing the deal remain. European officials over the weekend urged Iran to drop its “unrealistic demands” outside the scope of the original agreement, including over an International Atomic Energy Agency probe into undeclared nuclear material found in the country.

Iran said it was examining the text, but has raised skepticism about the chances for a breakthrough after a months-long stalemate.

“Naturally, the cases require comprehensive study,” Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency quoted an anonymous senior Iranian Foreign Ministry official as saying. “We will transfer our views and supplementary points.”

But Western diplomats have warned that time is running short, as Iran’s nuclear program rapidly advances under diminishing international oversight. They also worry looming midterm elections in the US could empower Republicans who oppose the accord.

Iran’s chief negotiator, Ali Bagheri, will shortly fly back to Tehran for political consultations, IRNA said. At the top of Iran’s theocracy is Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who would have the final say on any deal.

It was unclear how long the political consultations over the draft text would last.

But, Borrell said, “if these answers are positive, then we can sign this deal.”

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