EU, US to plot ‘way ahead’ as Iran responds to ‘final’ nuclear text

Iran has warned of a "crushing" response to any Israeli attack. PHOTO: REUTERS

BRUSSELS (BLOOMBERG) – The European Union is studying Iran’s response to a proposed blueprint for reviving the 2015 nuclear deal and consulting with the United States on a “way ahead” for the protracted talks.

Teheran outlined its positions to the bloc late Monday (Aug 15), responding to mediators’ “final” proposal circulated last week.

The EU described the draft text as the last remaining hope of rescuing an accord meant to limit Teheran’s nuclear activity in exchange for the lifting of sanctions, including on Iran’s energy sector.

But comments from top Iranian officials suggest they are seeking further changes.  

Extra oil from Iran could provide much-needed relief for a global economy hit by soaring energy costs.

“We have received the Iranian response last evening. We are studying it and are consulting with the other JCPOA participants and the US on the way ahead,” the EU’s spokeswoman for foreign affairs and security Nabila Massrali said Tuesday (Aug 16), using the nuclear deal’s formal acronym.

The accord unravelled after the Trump administration abandoned it in 2018, setting off a security crisis in the Persian Gulf and effectively banning Iranian oil from global markets.

Teheran responded by stepping up its uranium enrichment to near levels that are required for a weapons programme.

On Monday, the semi-official Iranian Students’ News Agency (Isna), citing an “informed source”, said Teheran’s position on the latest draft text was sent to the EU’s top envoy Josep Borrell.

The Islamic Republic expects a reply in the next two days, Isna said, without giving any more details.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said an agreement can be reached with Washington to restore the beleaguered accord in the next few days “if the US shows a realistic approach and flexibility”.

“We’ve clearly told the US we’re ready to enter the phase of announcing the deal, and have a meeting of foreign ministers in Vienna on final conclusions, if our latest points are met,” Mr Amirabdollahian told reporters in a briefing in Teheran.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said the Biden administration planned to share its views privately with Mr Borrell.

“We do agree, however, with his fundamental point – and that is that what could be negotiated has been negotiated,” he said. 

The US said the deal could only be revived if Iran dropped “extraneous” issues, an apparent reference to Teheran’s demands the UN nuclear watchdog close a probe into unexplained uranium traces in Iran and that its Revolutionary Guards come off a US terrorism list.

Diplomats and officials said whether or not Teheran and Washington accept the EU’s “final” offer, neither is likely to declare the pact dead because keeping it alive serves both sides’ interests.

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