EU Mediator: Decision Time for Iran Nuclear Deal

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The EU mediator in the Vienna talks to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal said on Monday that a final text is ready and that leaders in Tehran and Washington must now accept or reject it.

The announcement appeared to signal that 15 months of on-again, off-again negotiations in Vienna are over, and that both sides will have to compromise on key demands if they agree to the EU's text.

"What can be negotiated has been negotiated, and it's now in a final text," tweeted EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.

Borell helped relaunch the Vienna talks last week, based on the text of an agreement that has been on the table since March. He said on Monday that this text had been fine-tuned over the past several days.

"However, behind every technical issue and every paragraph lies a political decision that needs to be taken in the capitals," said Borrell. "If these answers are positive, then we can sign this deal."

Sources confirm that the remaining areas of disagreement are very narrow.

Handful of Sticking Points

"There are three or four issues that they're working on," Mohammad Marandi, a professor at Tehran University who has worked with Iran's negotiating team, told Energy Intelligence from Vienna on Sunday.

Marandi highlighted Iran's desire for assurances that it would continue to reap the benefits of an agreement, even if control of the White House changes hands.

However, the Biden administration has emphasized that it cannot tie the hands of a future president.

Marandi also mentioned "nuclear accusations," seemingly referring to accusations that Iran has violated its pre-2015 safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

However, the remaining differences between the two sides "are very limited in scope" he added.

"Final Text"

After Borrell's announcement on Monday, neither Washington nor Tehran fully endorsed his characterization of this moment as a final chance for a new deal.

The EU "has circulated what they describe as a final text," said a State Department spokesperson. "We are studying it carefully now and will provide our answer to the EU, as they have requested."

The US spokesperson did agree that the text tabled by the EU "is the best and only basis on which to reach a deal."

Marandi tweeted that while Borrell has played a "crucial" role in the process, it is "for the parties to decide on a future final text."

Iran "will continue constructive engagement by studying today's amended proposals," he added.

Who Makes Next Move?

Marandi argued that it is now up to the US to make the next move, but Washington argues the opposite.

The Iranians "repeatedly say they are prepared for a return to mutual implementation" of the 2015 nuclear deal, said the State Department spokesperson. "Let's see if their actions match their words."

Under the original agreement, Iran agreed to accept limits on its nuclear program in return for the lifting of international sanctions.

But former President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the agreement in 2018 and reimposed sanctions.

Energy Intelligence's Research and Advisory service estimates that a new agreement that closely resembles the original deal could quickly increase Iran's oil exports by more than 1 million barrels per day.

Iran is estimated to be currently exporting 600,000 b/d to 1 million b/d in defiance of US sanctions.

Nuclear Policy, Sanctions, Oil Trade, Oil Supply
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