EU welcomes ‘progress’ in talks with Iran to restore 2015 nuclear deal

Iranian demonstrators burn American flags during a protest in Tehran, Iran on May 11, 2018, followin

Iranian demonstrators burn American flags during a protest in Tehran, Iran on May 11, 2018, following the decision by U.S. President Donald Trump to pull out of the nuclear deal and renew sanctions on the country. - Credit: PA Images

It is not too late for Iran and world powers to clinch a deal to revive the 2015 nuclear accord, says the European Union's foreign policy chief. 

Josep Borrell said an agreement was “very close” after Sunday’s meeting in Vienna and could make the Middle East safer by bringing aid to millions of Iranians hit by oil and economic sanctions, which the US reimposed three years ago when they left the deal. 

However, he then added that the negotiations were “running out of time”. 

 “We have invested a lot of political capital ... so I hope that the result of the elections is not going to be the last obstacle that will ruin the negotiation process. As far as I know... this is not going to be the case,” he said. 

This happened during the first official meeting since the hard-line judiciary chief won a landslide victory in Iran's presidential election last week. Some politicians feared that the election of Ebrahim Raisi as president would hinder any success of the agreement.

However, final policy decisions remain with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and commentators have said this suggests continuity in the nation’s stance. 

Raisi’s election and presence in Vienna dominated the discussion, with hard-liners now in charge of the government when Tehran is enriching uranium at its highest levels ever, while still short of weapons-grade level.

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Hostility remained between the US and Iran and Israel, which is believed to have launched several attacks targeting Iranian nuclear sites and assassinating the scientist who created its military atomic program decades earlier.

Enrique Mora, the European Union official who chaired the final meeting of the sixth round of talks between Russia, China, Germany, France, Britain, and Iran, said that “we are closer to a deal, but we are not still there.” 

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said that the text surrounding the deal was getting “cleaner and cleaner” hinting that an agreement could be reached before Raisi's new government assumes office. 

“We are supposed to leave office by mid-August, and I think there is a good possibility we can reach an agreement way before mid-August,” he said. 

The US did not have a representative present at the meeting in Vienna. But, president Joe Biden's administration did have indicated its willingness to rejoin the Iran deal under conditions that would broadly see the US scale back its sanctions and Iran return back to its 2015 promises. 

A US delegation is taking part in talks in-direct talks with Iran, assisted by diplomats from other countries acting as go-betweens. 

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