At the end of the latest round of talks (the fourth) in Vienna on Wednesday a top European Union envoy has said that the reviving of the Iran nuclear deal is now “shaping up”. Enrique Mora, the EU’s top negotiator for the Vienna nuclear talks, says he’s “quite sure” a deal will be reached at a moment the text is being drafted, and as talks adjourn for a week.
Documents outlining both Iran’s compliance and the United States’ return to the JCPOA nuclear deal are now said to be “mostly drafted” – according to Iranian statements, with the exception of “complicated differences”. A “final round” of talks are now set for next week, with the Iranian side hoping for a deal to be reached prior to the Iranian presidential election in June, after which Hassan Rouhani will step down due to term limits.
The Islamic Republic’s chief negotiator, Abbas Araghchi, assessed on Wednesday that “I think good headway has been made with the talks over the past two weeks. A few key issues have remained, and they need further consideration, and decisions should be made about those issues in the capitals.”
This next week is being described essentially as a period where negotiators will go back to their respective capitals to prep for the final definitive meetings. Remaining “red lines” are expected to be decided on.
The Guardian summarizes the three main remaining issues expected to be resolved by any agreement reached as follows:
- the precise sanctions the US is prepared to lift;
- the time Iran is allowed to reverse its steps away from the deal;
- …and how to handle the knowledge Iran has acquired in the many months in which it has not been in full compliance with the deal, including its enrichment of uranium to 60% purity.
Just chaired a #JCPOA Joint Commission to wrap-up 4th round Vienna talks.We’ve made good progress. An agreement is shaping up. Now a common understanding on what still needed for US return to #JCPOA, lifting of related sanctions and the resumption of nuclear commitments by Iran pic.twitter.com/gCO3rSBZ2k
— Enrique Mora (@enriquemora_) May 19, 2021
However, despite a flurry of positive statements out of Vienna on Wednesday it remains that other Western diplomats are more circumspect, with a Wall Street Journal correspondent citing one official who emphasized that “success is not guaranteed” given “there are still some very difficult issues ahead. We do not underestimate the challenges that lay before us.”