The JCPOA revival agreement is one step closer to being signed. A week after Iran sent its comments on a draft deal prepared by the European Union, the United States gave its response to the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who acts as the coordinator of the Vienna talks.
Iran said Wednesday that it had started to “closely review” the U.S. response and would let Borrell know about its stance once the process was completed.
Media sources close to Iran’s Supreme National Security Council said Iran would continue to review the U.S. response “as long as necessary” and would hand a final report on that to its decision-makers.
Borrell who had already called Iran's comments “reasonable”, described America's response to Iran's positions on the EU text "very reasonable".
There have been widespread media speculations about the fate of the JCPOA since the U.S. responded to Iran’s comments. However, none of the parties have officially announced the details of their answers.
The media and political figures close to the governments in Iran and the United States have emphasized the need to winning appropriate concessions from the other side and have tried to convince opponents that the JCPOA revival is in the interests of their respective country.
“We continue to feel that a mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA continues to be not only in the national security interest of the United States, but also an important step for the region [Middle East],” U.S. State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said.
The reportedly detailed comments of Americans on the EU text as well as Tehran's equally detailed appear to be contrary to initial reports that the EU draft was final and the parties had to give either a positive or negative response to it.
This might prompt Iran and the U.S. to continue to exchange messages. On Friday, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said a possible deal is in the “final stages” and can be reached “if the Americans are realistic”.
Some signs in America also strengthen the optimism about the agreement. According to media reports, it seems that the Israelis have not succeeded in achieving their goals to disrupt a possible agreement, an indication of which is that the White House has postponed a phone call between U.S. president and Israeli prime minister.
Israel’s Channel 13 has also reported that "the nuclear talks with Iran have reached the final stage" and that chances of a meeting between the U.S. defense minister and his Israeli counterpart are slim. Earlier, the U.S. cancelled a meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Israeli National Security Advisor Eyal Hulata.
Channel 13 said some Israeli leaders admitted that they had failed to convince the U.S. to give up a deal and that Israel is now “alone” in the face of Iran.
Israeli spy chief David Barnea said on Thursday that the U.S. “is rushing into an accord” which is “very bad for Israel”.
In the meantime, what may appear as a challenge to a possible deal is the wrench-throwing of the International Atomic Energy Agency whose head Rafael Grossi repeated claims about traces of uranium at “undeclared sites” in Iran and demanded access to them for clarification.
Amir-Abdollahian hit back by saying that Iran is “very serious about the remaining safeguards issues and we are in no way willing to leave unattended some political and baseless accusations” brought about by Israel.
Speaking to France 24, Grossi struck a softer tone and said the IAEA is "expecting a breakthrough as soon as possible" for a deal on the JCPOA revival.
He also expressed hope that the agency could resume cooperation with Iran as an independent international body.
However, the existing signs are indicative that the possibility of reaching an agreement is higher than ever.