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Nuclear Negotiators Announce Being “Very Close” To Final Iran Deal

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

At a moment that the Biden administration is coming under severe scrutiny over why it hasn't targeted or blocked Russian oil imports with sanctions – Thursday witnessed significant rumblings that world powers negotiating with Iran are on the cusp of a restored nuclear deal

One top EU foreign policy official confirmed that the Vienna process is now in the "final stages" but still cautioned "we are definitely not there yet" while an early evening CNN report cited a State Department official who said negotiators are "inching forward" toward reaching a deal

UK chief negotiator (Twitter translate) "We are very close to an agreement. All parties have negotiated constructively under the leadership of the EU Coordinator _Enriquemora @. Now we have to take a few final steps. #ViennaTalks" https://t.co/MvRjksRxBm

— laurence norman (@laurnorman) March 3, 2022

"While there has been significant progress and we are close to a possible deal, a number of very difficult issues remain unresolved," the official told CNN.

A huge part of the "pressure" on the US side to wrap up the deal is now tied into the Ukraine and what's looking to soon be continually soaring energy and gas prices. The White House last month revealed it was in a full-court press to talk to Asian, African and Middle East companies about urgently getting 'alternative' supplies to Europe, also as the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline has been halted.

Though the latest Biden admin statements have urged caution (the US has been negotiating indirectly via European mediation) European negotiators on Thursday issued highly optimistic statements:

"We are very close to an agreement," chief British negotiator Stephanie Al-Qaq said on Twitter. "Now we have to take a few final steps."

We are at the final stages of the #ViennaTalks on #JCPOA. Some relevant issues are still open and success is never guaranteed in such a complex negotiation. Doing our best in the coordinator's team. But we are definitely not there yet.

— Enrique Mora (@enriquemora_) March 3, 2022

Among the hurdles that remains, notes The Wall Street Journal Thursday evening, includes terror designations put in place under the Trump administration

U.S. and Iranian officials cautioned there was at least one big issue that still needed solving: Iran has been pushing for more sanctions relief if the nuclear deal is restored. In particular, it wants the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to be taken off Washington’s most significant terror sanctions list, the Foreign Terrorist Organization.

Meanwhile, Iran hawks in Congress as well as Saudi Arabia have weighed in voicing concern over a "weak deal" that's being rushed

"We do not want to see a weak #Iran nuclear deal because the result will be the same in the end," #SaudiArabia's Crown Prince said. https://t.co/UV7nw3W7xP

— Jason Brodsky (@JasonMBrodsky) March 3, 2022

Earlier in the day…

Oil Slides On Speculation Iran Nuclear Deal Will Be Signed "In Next 72 Hours" https://t.co/9RpECxfZVc

— zerohedge (@zerohedge) March 3, 2022

Followed by these earlier headlines that may indeed suggest negotiators are still merely "inching" toward a completed deal…

  • IRAN CONTINUES TO BREACH MANY KEY LIMITS SET BY 2015 NUCLEAR DEAL, INCLUDING URANIUM ENRICHMENT LEVEL AND ENRICHED URANIUM STOCK -QUARTERLY U.N. ATOMIC WATCHDOG REPORT
  • IRAN RAISES STOCK OF HIGHLY-ENRICHED URANIUM BY 83%: IAEA
  • IRAN HAS CONTINUED RESTRICTING IAEA ACCESS TO DATA

Another key issue is the question of "guarantees" that a future US administration would stick by a restored JCPOA. Republicans have by and large promised they would torpedo any potential deal should they take back the White House. Israel too has long lobbied especially the Republican side of the aisle to do just that. This is hugely concerning for Iran.

"Nobody can say the deal is done until all the outstanding remaining issues are resolved," Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh also weighed in. "Extra efforts needed," he said.


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