Dubai, United Arab Emirates — Talks to revive Tehran’s scrapped nuclear deal with world powers in Vienna ended on Monday as the parties hammered out a final text and key negotiators prepared to hold consultations in their capitals, diplomats said.
After 16 months of grueling on-and-off indirect negotiations to restore the deal, EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell suggested there was no more room on the table for negotiations on the draft.
He indicated that the final decision rested with the Iranian and US governments on whether the most important non-proliferation treaty of the last quarter century could be restored. The 2015 nuclear deal gave Iran sanctions relief in exchange for tighter curbs on its nuclear program.
“What can be negotiated has been negotiated and is now in the final text,” Borrell wrote on Twitter. “However, behind every technical point and every paragraph there is a political decision that needs to be made in capitals.”
Major challenges to closing the deal remain. European officials over the weekend urged Iran to drop “unreasonable demands” outside the scope of the original deal, including an International Atomic Energy Agency investigation into undeclared nuclear material found in the country.
Iran’s chief negotiator, Ali Bagheri Kani, will return to Tehran soon for political consultations, Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency said. At the top of Iran’s hierarchy is Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who will have the final say on any deal.
The US, which abandoned the original nuclear deal four years ago under former President Donald Trump, described the draft as “the best and only basis for reaching an agreement”.
“For our part, our position is clear: We are ready to conclude a deal quickly based on the EU’s proposals,” the State Department said, adding that the deal was up to Iran to restore.
“They (Iran) repeatedly say they are ready to return to mutual enforcement,” the spokesman added. “Let’s see if their actions match their words.”
Iran, for its part, remained cautious, raising doubts about the prospects for progress after a month of stalemate.
“Of course a comprehensive study of the cases is necessary,” IRNA quoted an unnamed senior official at Iran’s foreign ministry as saying. “We will transfer our opinions and supplementary points.”
But Western diplomats have warned that time is running out as Iran’s nuclear program progresses rapidly under diminishing international oversight. They also have mid-term concerns ElectionRepublicans who oppose the deal could enable U.S. s.
It was not clear how long political discussions on the draft would last.
But, Borrell said, “If these answers are positive, we can sign the agreement.”
Associated Press writers Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Iran, and Ellen Knickmeyer in Washington contributed.