Negotiators are “closer” to saving the Iran nuclear deal but sticking points remain, an EU top diplomat said on Sunday at the end of the latest round of talks.
Enrique Mora spoke a day after ultraconservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi won the Islamic republic’s presidential election. Sunday’s meeting was part of regular discussions since early April, aimed at bringing the US back to the 2015 landmark agreement and Iran back into compliance with curbs on its nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.
But it came a day after Raisi was declared the winner of Iran’s presidential election, replacing moderate Hassan Rouhani. “We are closer to a deal, but we are not still there,” EU negotiator Mora, who is chairing the talks, told reporters.
Mora added that he expected in the next round “the delegations will come back from the capitals with clearer instructions, clearer ideas on how to finally close the deal.” He did not say when talks would resume, noting that the main problem continued to be to find a solution “in this delicate balance” between lifting US sanctions on Iran and reversing Tehran’s stepped-up nuclear activities.
Mora said the next round would also give “a clearer idea” of Iran’s “new political environment” though he pointed out that talks had carried on despite the election. Iran’s envoy, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, said ahead of Sunday’s meeting that negotiators were “closer to an agreement than ever.
“But it is not an easy task to close the distance currently between us and an agreement,” he told Iran’s national television. “At this point, it is clear which fields, which actions are possible and which are not. Therefore, it is time for all sides, especially our counterparts, to be able to make their final decision.” Araghchi could not say how many days the latest break would last.