Iran says nuclear talks nearing end, as diplomats fret
Iran said the next round of talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal is likely to be the last, while European diplomats fretted that time to clinch an agreement is slipping away as an Iranian hardliner prepares to take power.
“We’ve reached a clear text on all the issues and what remains requires the decision of all parties,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told reporters on Monday. “It’s not unlikely that the next round of talks will be the last”.
European diplomats in Vienna sounded more concerned about how close negotiators are to a June 24 expiry of Iran’s nuclear inspections pact with the International Atomic Energy Agency and the fact that moderate President Hassan Rouhani leaves office in August before handing over to the hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi.
While the sides have managed to agree on a number of important elements, the most difficult issues still need to be resolved, senior European diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
World powers ended a sixth round of talks in Vienna on Sunday and returned home for further consultations with their governments as key disagreements between the US and Iran remain over how to orchestrate the revival of the landmark accord that was abandoned by former President Donald Trump in 2018.
Raisi said in his campaign that he intends to preserve the deal, but his election in Friday’s vote will mark a more hostile shift toward the West and particularly the US.
Oil markets are closely following the talks for signs of when sanctions might be removed, triggering the return of Iranian crude to the market. They will also be keeping a close eye on the tone that Raisi is likely to set in terms of his attitude toward foreign investment and the return of companies such as TotalEnergies SE, which abandoned a $5 billion (€4.2 billion) investment project after US sanctions were re-imposed.
Decisions related to the nuclear deal and regional policy ultimately rest with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has so far backed talks and the revival of the deal - but on the condition it guarantees the US won’t again abandon it in the future.
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