A day after Tehran sent its response to the latest draft of the potential Vienna agreement to the EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, the air is filled with speculation over the content of Iran’s response as well as the future of the nuclear negotiations.
Iran’s top nuclear negotiator reported to the Iranian president on Monday that the most recent talks revolved around putting an end to politically-charged claims about safeguard issues and receiving assurances about Iran’s economic interests from the deal. Earlier, Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian claimed that Washington had shown flexibility on two out of three issues. Apparently, the only remaining issue is whether the Americans will give assurances that they would not back out of the deal.
So far, several Iranian officials have reported of the American negotiators demonstrating flexibility after months of insisting on excessive demands, and this has broken some long-standing deadlocks and raised hopes for reaching an agreement.
Describing Tehran’s response as “constructive”, Russia’s top negotiator to the Vienna talks, Mikhail Ulyanov, noted that if the Americans respond positively, a meeting at the level of foreign ministers would soon be held, and the agreement would be signed.
On Monday, the U.S. State Department spokesperson said that the U.S. would provide its views on the EU’s final draft privately and directly to Josep Borrell. One senior Western official was quoted by Politico as saying that the Iranian answer is mostly focused on outstanding questions related to sanctions and guarantees around economic engagement.
“We are reviewing Iran’s response and consulting with other parties to the JCPOA including the U.S. about the path ahead,” EU foreign affairs spokeswoman Nabila Massrali told Iran Daily.
It appears that Vienna will host another round of talks in the near future where the response of all sides will be summed up. On Monday, Amir-Abdollahian said, “We are seeking to advance our national interests, but the opposing side is comprised of six countries with their own considerations.”
It is argued that the Americans do not consider the prolongation of nuclear talks to be in their best interest, especially since the global market is in desperate need of Iran’s oil and natural gas. This has compelled Washington to show flexibility.
Domestic opposition to the revival of the JCPOA has subsided in Iran, which is another reason for optimism. The opposition was predominantly voiced by members of the Iranian Parliament. It seems that the Iranian foreign minister and the negotiating delegation were successful in convincing Parliament that they have taken great pains not to cross any red lines and jeopardize national interests. In this regard, members of the Supreme National Security Council and Parliament’s National Security Foreign Policy Committee held a joint meeting on Monday.
Now, although both Iran and the U.S. claim that the ball is in the other party’s court, it seems that the continuous exchange of messages between them through different channels has convinced both Washington and Tehran that prolonging the talks without achieving results will further add to the existing complications. Therefore, the conditions appear ripe for reaching an agreement unless the Americans avoid putting their verbal concessions in writing.