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EU presents 'final text' to revive Iran nuclear deal

By JONATHAN POWELL in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2022-08-10 09:17

A general view shows Palais Coburg where closed-door nuclear talks with Iran take place in Vienna, Austria, Aug 4,2022. [Photo/Agencies]

European Union mediators have put forward a "final text" of an agreement to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal following four days of talks between United States and Iranian officials in Vienna.

"What can be negotiated has been negotiated, and it's now in a final text. However, behind every technical issue and every paragraph lies a political decision that needs to be taken in the capitals," said EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell in a social media post.

"If these answers are positive, then we can sign this deal," he added.

In July 2015, Iran agreed to strict limits on its nuclear activity in exchange for the US lifting many sanctions, in a deal that is formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.

Former US president Donald Trump pulled Washington out of the agreement in 2018 and restored harsh sanctions on Teheran.

Trump had pledged to negotiate a better deal but left office without fulfilling this promise. Since then, analysts determined that Iran had moved closer to developing a nuclear weapon.

The Austrian capital has been hosting revived talks, which first began in April last year, but were suspended in March this year due to political differences between Teheran and Washington, according to reports.

A key issue for Iran in the talks has been the International Atomic Energy Agency investigation into past nuclear activity at three undeclared sites, which Teheran wants dropped, reported the Financial Times. Iran has also insisted that Washington remove Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards from its list of designated terrorist groups.

No more changes could be made to the final text, according to a senior EU official quoted by Reuters. A final decision from the parties is expected within a "very, very few weeks", said the official.

"It is a package proposal … You cannot agree with page 20 and disagree with page 50. You have to say yes or no," he said.

Washington has said it is ready for a quick agreement based on the EU text, but Teheran believes the document lacks authority.

Reuters cited Iran's Nournews website, affiliated to the country's Supreme National Security Council, as saying "the aim is to force Iran to accept the text… under pressure …when Iran, as one of the negotiating parties, does not accept it as the final text, no other authority can talk about the finalization of the text".

Iranian officials said they would consult in Teheran before conveying their "additional views and considerations" to the EU.

"The final agreement must ensure the rights and interests of the Iranian people and guarantee the effective and stable removal of sanctions," Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian told Borrell in a call, Iranian state media reported.

Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia's permanent representative to international organizations in Vienna and chief negotiator at the Iran nuclear talks, said on Twitter that "the participants in the Vienna talks now need to decide if the draft is acceptable for them. In case of no objection, the nuclear deal will be restored".

On Monday, Wang Qun, China's permanent representative to the United Nations in Vienna and chief negotiator, urged the US to make immediate political decisions to help promote an early agreement in the Iran nuclear talks.

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