Iran says nuclear deal ‘within reach’ if West shows goodwill

Iran provides European powers involved in the 2015 nuclear deal two drafts on sanctions removal, nuclear commitments.

This file photo from October shows Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri (R) posing for a picture with European External Action Service (EEAS) deputy secretary general, Enrique Mora, in Tehran [Iranian Foreign Ministry via AFP]

Iran’s top diplomat says an agreement to revive his country’s nuclear deal with world powers was “within reach” but that this depended on the goodwill of the West.

Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said on Twitter on Thursday that negotiations in the Austrian capital, Vienna, were “proceeding with seriousness” and that the removal of sanctions was a “fundamental priority”.

“Good deal within reach if the West shows good will. We seek rational, sober and result-oriented dialogue,” said Amirabdollahian.

The talks aimed at reviving the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and several world powers – Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States – resumed on Monday after Iran paused them in June following the election of President Ebrahim Raisi.

The US, which unilaterally pulled out of the deal in 2018, is only participating in the talks indirectly at Iran’s insistence.

The goal of the deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is to make it practically impossible for Iran to build an atomic bomb while allowing it to pursue a civilian nuclear programme.

Under the pact, Tehran limited its nuclear programme in exchange for relief from US, EU and UN economic sanctions.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday it was not too late for Iran to revive its nuclear deal with world powers, but cautioned that optimism was low.

“I have to tell you, recent moves, recent rhetoric, don’t give us a lot of cause for for optimism,” he said. “But even though the hour is getting very late, it is not too late for Iran to reverse course,” he added.

Iran submits proposals

Separately on Thursday, Iran provided the European powers involved in the deal with two drafts on sanctions removal and nuclear commitments, Iran’s top nuclear negotiator said.

“We have delivered two proposed drafts to them … Of course they need to check the texts that we have provided to them. If they are ready to continue the talks, we are in Vienna to continue the talks,” Ali Bagheri Kani told reporters.

A European diplomat confirmed draft documents had been handed over.

Al Jazeera’s Ali Hashem, reporting from Vienna, said the proposals seemed to indicate “solid” progress at the talks.

“We understand from an Iranian diplomatic source that one of these proposals will be about lifting the sanctions, and the other will be on Iran rolling back the measures it took after the United States withdrew from the nuclear deal,” he said.

“The elements of these proposals are going to be built upon what was agreed on in the past six rounds of talks between Iran and the world powers.

“However, new points were added, ones that were disregarded in the past talks and Iran believes they are crucial in order to reach an agreement.”

Meanwhile, Israel called on world powers to halt the nuclear negotiations immediately, citing a UN watchdog’s announcement that Tehran has started producing enriched uranium with more advanced centrifuges.

“Iran is carrying out nuclear blackmail as a negotiating tactic, and this should be answered by the immediate halt to negotiations and the implementation of tough steps by the world powers,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office quoted him as saying in a call with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday.

The deal has come under increasing strain since then-President Donald Trump pulled the US out and reimposed harsh sanctions, prompting Tehran to breach nuclear limits in the pact.

In turn, Iran, which denies it wants to acquire a nuclear arsenal, has gradually abandoned its commitments since 2019.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies