Iranian Foreign Minister: Nuclear Deal 'Closer Than Ever Before' at Vienna Talks
Earlier this week, US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters that while a nuclear deal with Iran was "not imminent", the Biden administration was prepared to make "difficult decisions" to resurrect the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
Hossein Amirabdollahian, Iran's foreign minister, said on Wednesday that a new nuclear deal between his nation and the West was "closer to an agreement in Vienna than ever before," alluding to continuing talks in Vienna, Reuters reported on Wednesday.
Amirabdollahian was talking to reporters in Damascus, Syria, saying that negotiators were close to revising the 2015 nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was abandoned by the US under the administration of Donald Trump in 2018.
"If the US acts pragmatically, we are ready to have foreign ministers of countries belonging to the nuclear deal's joint commission gather in Vienna to finalise the agreement," the foreign minister said, per the report. "We believe that today we are closer to an agreement in Vienna than ever before."
Since US President Joe Biden took office, negotiations to restart the JCPOA have been ongoing for the greater part of a year, with the goal of resuming a nuclear deal that was ratified while he was vice president. And just for the past few weeks, negotiators in Vienna have been hinting that a new deal is on the way, with only a few wrinkles to iron out.
On Monday, the US Department of State indicated that a new deal was not certain and that Washington was planning for scenarios with and without mutual agreement on a full reinstatement of the JCPOA.
The discussions were on the verge of reaching an agreement until the Kremlin reportedly requested assurances from Washington that sanctions placed on Russia due to the special military operation in Ukraine would not harm its commerce with Iran, as well as the seizure by the US of a pair of Greek tankers carrying Iranian oil.
"We have given our latest proposals to the US through the European Union's Coordinator to reach a final deal. We reminded the Americans that we will not cross our red lines," Amirabdollahian said.
However, failing to reach a new agreement might be costly, as Iran has reportedly enriched over 33 kilograms of uranium to 60% fissile purity, up 5 kilograms since November. Highly enriched uranium can be used to make a nuclear bomb, but the Islamic republic has repeatedly asserted that it will never develop nuclear weapons, as, among other issues, the deadly devices are contrary to Islam.
Iran indicated earlier this month that it was willing to work with the International Atomic Energy Agency on its nuclear program. Late last month, Iran stated willingness to "immediately conclude a good deal" with the remaining Western JCPOA parties and the US, provided the latter was willing to "show real will."
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