Iran May Accept EU Proposal to Revive Nuclear Deal If Demands Met

A flag is waved in front of Palais Coburg where closed-door nuclear talks with Iran take place in Vienna, Austria. (REUTERS/Lisa Leutner)

DUBAI (Reuters) – A European Union proposal to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal “can be acceptable if it provides assurances” on Tehran’s key demands, the state news agency IRNA said on Friday, quoting a senior Iranian diplomat.

The EU said on Monday it had put forward a “final” text following four days of indirect talks between U.S. and Iranian officials in Vienna.

A senior EU official said no more changes could be made to the text, which has been under negotiation for 15 months. He said he expected a final decision from the parties within a “very, very few weeks.”

IRNA quoted the unidentified Iranian diplomat as saying Tehran was reviewing the proposal. “Proposals by the EU can be acceptable if they provide Iran with assurance on the issues of safeguards, sanctions and guarantees,” the diplomat said.

The Islamic Republic has sought to obtain guarantees that no future U.S. president would renege on the deal if it were revived, as then-President Donald Trump did in 2018 and restored harsh U.S. sanctions on Iran.

However, President Joe Biden cannot provide such ironclad assurances because the deal is a political understanding rather than a legally binding treaty.

A Shiite Muslim cleric, in a sermon at Friday prayers that typically echo the state line, said Tehran insisted on obtaining verifiable guarantees that U.S. sanctions would be lifted under a revived deal, according to Iranian state media.

“We insist on getting the necessary guarantees, the lifting of sanctions and verification, and if this is achieved, then our negotiating team will tell the people that sanctions have been lifted thanks to your resistance and power,” Kazem Seddiqi said at Friday prayers in the capital Tehran, according to state media.

Washington has said it is ready to quickly reach an agreement to restore the deal on the basis of the EU proposals.

Iranian officials said they would convey their “additional views and considerations” to the EU, which coordinates the talks, after consultations in Tehran.

The 2015 pact seemed near revival in March. But 11 months of indirect talks between Tehran and the Biden administration in Vienna were thrown into disarray chiefly over Iran’s insistence that Washington remove its elite Revolutionary Guards Corps from the U.S. Foreign Terrorist Organizations list.

On Wednesday the United States charged a Revolutionary Guards member with plotting to murder John Bolton, a national security adviser to Trump, though Washington said it did not believe the charges should affect the nuclear talks with Tehran.

Under the 2015 agreement, Iran curbed its disputed uranium enrichment program, a possible pathway to nuclear weapons, in return for relief from U.S., EU and U.N. sanctions. Tehran says it wants nuclear power only for peaceful purposes.

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