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US, Iran ‘close to possible deal’ over reviving 2015 nuke accord

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WASHINGTON: US State Department has said a potential deal to return the US and Iran to full compliance with a historic 2015 nuclear agreement is within reach even as some issues remain unresolved.

“We do think the remaining issues can be bridged. We do think, and as we’ve said before, we’ve made significant progress,” spokesperson Ned Price told reporters on Wednesday. 

“We are close to a possible deal but we’re not there yet.”

Indirect negotiations between the US and Iran have been ongoing since April 2021. They have been facilitated by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action’s (JCPOA) other participants in protracted shuttle diplomacy.

The agreement placed unprecedented curbs on Iran’s nuclear programme and subjected Tehran to an international inspections regime verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Former US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018, in a now futile effort to bring Iran back to negotiations for what his administration maintained would be a more wide-ranging agreement.

Trump re-imposed US sanctions lifted under the 2015 pact and imposed new economic penalties.

Rather than pursue negotiations, Tehran chose to take steps away from its nuclear-related commitments in retaliation for Trump’s actions.

A potential stumbling block for a mutual return to compliance was removed on Tuesday when Russia said it received written assurances that the sweeping sanctions the West imposed on Moscow in retaliation for its attack on Ukraine will not affect its role in the JCPOA.

Under the original agreement, Russia took from Iran enriched uranium that was in excess of caps the JCPOA imposed. It is likely to resume that role under any revived deal.

“We got written guarantees, they are included in the text of the agreement of the restoration of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iran nuclear programme, and in those texts, a reliable protection is provided to all projects and directions of activities falling under the JCPOA,” according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Meanwhile, in Tehran, Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian has said that his country is ready for a final agreement over the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal provided that all red lines of the Islamic Republic are met. 

Amirabdollahian on Wednesday night had a phone conversation with British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss. They discussed the Vienna talks over the revival of Iran’s nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or the JCPOA. 
The talks involve Iran and the remaining parties to the deal, with the US participating indirectly, because it withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018 and reinstated sanctions on Iran. 

Amirabdollahian said that a good and sustainable agreement on the JCPOA revival can definitely be reached if the United States has a realistic behavior and stops making new and wrong demands. 
The two top diplomats also discussed UK-Iran ties and international developments. 
Amirabdollahian welcomed the latest UK move to pay its debt – worth 390 million pounds – to the Iranian nation after more than four decades and expressed hope that the two sides can expand their relations through trust-building measures. 
The British foreign secretary, on her part, expressed satisfaction over the latest developments in her country’s ties with Iran, and called for their further expansion.

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