Iran nuclear deal ‘closer now than it was two weeks ago’ but gaps remain, says US State Department spokesperson


The US State Department spokesperson expressed some optimism about the prospects for salvaging the Iran nuclear deal, but stressed that divisions remained between the United States and Iran.

“An agreement is closer now than it was two weeks ago, but the outcome of these ongoing discussions still remains uncertain as gaps remain,” Ned Price said during a Department of Health briefing. ‘State.

In early August, the European Union presented what its top diplomat Josep Borrell called “a final text” to restore the agreement and called for responses from Washington and Tehran. Iran submitted its response last week; the United States has yet to respond. Borrell said on Monday the Iranian response was “reasonable”.

On Monday, Price said the United States was still consulting, telling reporters, “We are working as quickly as possible, as methodically as possible, and as carefully as possible to complete our response. It takes Iranian comments into account and we will provide them to the EU as soon as we can. He also said the United States was “transmitting (its) comments directly and privately to the EU,” which mediates between the two sides.

Price said Iran had complicated the negotiations, noting that the United States was ready to accept the EU’s “final text” agreement, but Iran “responded with several comments.”

“That’s why it took us a bit longer to review those comments and determine our response,” he said, adding that “if there had been a clear Iranian response, a clear yes , I’m not sure we would be back and forth like we are now.

Nonetheless, Price said the United States is “encouraged that Iran appears to have dropped some of its non-starting demands,” including delisting the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization, but “there are still outstanding issues that need to be resolved, gaps that need to be filled.

He also reiterated the United States’ desire for a quick mutual return to compliance with the agreement “knowing the stakes of the status quo” – namely, a short “breakout time” before Iran has enough fissile material needed to produce a nuclear weapon. A senior administration official said the Biden administration estimates that keeping the deal intact would increase that escape time by several months.

“Where we are now, where Iran could produce enough material for a bomb in days or weeks, is a very dangerous place. And extending that deadline under a renewed deal is a much better place to be,” said Eric Brewer, senior director of the Nuclear Threat Initiative. “A six-month breakout timetable is, in my view, sufficient. have to consider the potential of a military option.

Henry Rome, deputy director of research at the Eurasia Group, told CNN that even if a deal is reached, Iran “will likely continue what it has done until the implementation process begins.”

“Then, throughout this process, they will have to take physical measures to stop producing certain types of materials, to eliminate certain types of materials, to export them or other means, to dismantle certain equipment and steps like that,” said he explained.

Price declined to detail what “outstanding issues” remain. Rome told CNN he believes “the two main sticking points remain the issues surrounding Iran’s economic safeguards, as well as trying to find a way to close the circle on the IAEA safeguards investigation. (International Atomic Energy Agency).

The IAEA, which serves as the UN’s nuclear watchdog, has demanded answers from Iran on why traces of enriched uranium were found at previously undeclared nuclear research sites a while ago. three years. IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi told CNN’s Becky Anderson on Monday that the agency would not drop the investigation without “technically credible explanations” from Iran.

Rome noted that “the last European draft included this language (on the IAEA safeguards investigation), the Iranians probably did not object to it although they did not necessarily accept it either” .

“It’s also inextricably linked to this process, although technically it’s separate, because the Iranians have been very clear that they will not move forward with the JCPOA if the issue of safeguards is still pending.” , did he declare.

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