EU pushing to finish Iran nuclear deal despite damning IAEA report

EU foreign policy chief says next week’s talks in Vienna should be the last, but diplomats are worried about confirmed Iranian nuclear excesses.

By World Israel News Staff

The chief European negotiator at the Iran nuclear talks in Vienna said Wednesday he thinks a deal can be finalized next week, but other diplomats involved in the talks weren’t so sure.

The fifth round of talks aimed at bringing the United States back into the 2015 Iran nuclear deal adjourned as negotiators from Russia, China, Germany, France, Britain, Iran and the U.S. returned to their respective capitals for consultations before another round of talks next wee.

“There are a number of technical issues that are rather complex, but I can say there are fewer than there were one week ago,” said EU Deputy Secretary General Enrique Mora. “The sixth round will definitely be the last.”

But diplomats from Britain, France and Germany were less optimistic and noted that that hardest negotiations were still to come.

“We have continued to make progress and important parts of a future deal have now been fleshed out, but the most difficult decisions lie ahead. We have of course worked based on the principle of nothing is agreed to (until) all is agreed,” the diplomats said in a statement.

Mora said that the U.S. and Iran would both have to make “hard decisions” to resume the nuclear deal that world powers signed with the Islamic Republic to try to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons.

Earlier this year in an apparent bid to force the U.S. to drop crippling economic sanctions against it, Iran announced that it was racing ahead and enriching uranium to 60% purity, a move the EU said had only military implications.

This week the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN’s watchdog agency that monitors nuclear power, reported that Iran now had 16 times the amount of enriched uranium that was allowed under the deal. IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi warned that his agency no longer could determine how much enriched uranium Iran has because the Iranians were actively hiding their work and blocking IAEA monitoring.

President Joe Biden promised to return the U.S. to the nuclear deal that former President Donald Trump pulled out of in 2018, slapping on additional sanctions on Iran’s economy. Biden had demanded Iran first comply with the deal, but appeared to back down when Biden administration officials said they would consider removing some sanctions in order to entice Iran.

Mora said that negotiators had noted Grossi’s report of the Iranian violations, but would not criticize Iran over it when talks resume next week.

Another European official told Bloomberg News that passing a resolution against Iran “would be a distraction” at the late stage of negotiations aimed at restoring the intensive monitoring of Iran’s enriched uranium supply.

In Washington, State Department Deputy Spokesperson Jalina Porter was also less optimistic than Mora.

“These last few rounds of discussion have actually helped crystallize the choices that need to be made by Iran, and also by us, the United States, in order to achieve a mutual return to compliance,” Porter said.

“Some progress has been made,” Porter said, but noted that “this isn’t going to be a quick or easy process” since the negotiations were slowed because the Iranians refused to sit in the same room with the American negotiators.