The talks in Vienna on the resuscitation of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal might be completed in early June, Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s permanent representative to international organizations in the Austrian capital, said in an interview on Friday.
"As a matter of fact, guessing is a rather unrewarding business. Should you ask me for my personal opinion, I can say that the first days of June are a realistic deadline. At least, it looks like this to me now. But when such complex work and such complex affairs are at stake, it is impossible to make forecasts with certainty. I am talking about the way our partners and myself feel at the moment," Ulyanov said, when asked about the current deadline for the talks, TASS reported.
Iran and the remaining parties to the nuclear agreement – Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain – began their efforts early last month to restore balance to the tattered deal that was nixed by former US president Donald Trump.
In quitting the deal, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Trump reimposed sanctions that had been lifted under the agreement and added new ones under his so-called “maximum pressure” campaign against the Islamic Republic to force Tehran into negotiating a “better deal” than the JCPOA.
Trump’s successor Joe Biden has promised to rejoin the JCPOA. Iran wants the US to lift all sanctions imposed by Trump before reentering the accord.
The fourth round of negotiations in the Austrian capital wrapped up on Wednesday so that the delegations would return to their respective capitals for further consultations. The top diplomats are expected to begin the fifth round next week.
Prior to their departure, diplomats engaged in the talks noted the “good” progress that was made, saying an agreement is “within reach”.
Ulyanov said that the negotiations were moving in the right direction.
"We have long crossed the equator. I have a feeling that the final stage may begin next week. I hope it will be so," he added.
The Russian diplomat also said Iran would “most likely” stop uranium enrichment to the level of 60 percent “soon anyway” after a deal is reached in Vienna.
Iran started the process of enriching uranium to 60 percent after an act of sabotage, blamed on Israel damaged some equipment there.
A US State Department officials said negotiators made "meaningful progress” in the latest round of discussions to rehabilitate the JCPOA.
“The latest round of talks in Vienna was positive, and we saw meaningful progress,” a State Department spokesperson told the Washington Examiner. “Nevertheless, important differences remain, which still need to be addressed.”
“We have to consider a number of factors, including the reality that the Trump administration, as I said earlier, professed to be imposing this wall of sanctions in order to prevent a return to the JCPOA,” a senior State Department official told reporters in an April 21 update.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani also said on Thursday that “the main big step” has been taken and “the primary agreement has been reached”.
He said Iran’s negotiating team, headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Seyyed Abbas Araqchi, is still in talks over details of the final agreement “but the government has done its job”.