Iran's foreign minister says nuclear deal could be close

Talks continue in Vienna with modest progress

Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said the US had “adapted to the realities of the scene". Photo: Reuters
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Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian has said negotiators are close to a “good deal” as nuclear talks continue in Vienna.

In an interview with state news agency IRNA on Sunday, Mr Amirabdollahian said the timeline for when an agreement would come to fruition was unclear as “whether or not we can reach that in the short term must be pursued on the other side".

“If they have good faith and serious will, everything is clear,” he said.

Mr Amirabdollahian said he believed the US has “adapted to the realities of the scene".

The spokesman for Iran's foreign ministry, Saeed Khatibzadeh, said the country was serious about an agreement and would not accept an interim deal.

Mr Khatibzadeh said Iran seeks a “stable and reliable agreement” and that an interim deal does not contain stability and reliability.

Throughout the talks, Iran has focused on securing a pledge from the US that it will lift sanctions and a guarantee that a new deal will not fall when a new administration takes power.

Iran, the US and EU have been holding talks in Austria’s capital — along with China, Russia and the UK — in hopes of reaching a new deal to lift US sanctions and curb Tehran's nuclear programme.

The eighth round of the talks, which started after Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi took office, has been focused on lifting crippling sanctions imposed by the Trump administration.

Former president Donald Trump pulled the US out of the 2015 accord, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and reinstated sanctions on Iran's economy.

A year after Mr Trump's decision, Iran abandoned the terms of the agreement, and began enriching uranium well above the agreed limits and increasing its installation of advanced centrifuges.

In Vienna, there was further optimism as Iran's chief negotiator, Ali Bagheri, acknowledged that the differences among the parties were narrowing, signalling progress.

Russia's envoy to the talks, Mikhail Ulyanov, was also optimistic but stressed that more time was still needed. He wrote on Twitter: “We share this assessment. Progress is being made. But achieving the desired solution will require additional time and effort.”

Israel‘s Prime minister Naftali Bennett also commented on the talks on Monday saying, "Israel is not bound by what will be written in the agreements, if they are signed, and Israel will continue to maintain full freedom of action anywhere any time, with no constraints.”

Israel is a long time opponent of nuclear talks with Iran and is not a signatory of the original JCPOA, or part of the talks in Vienna.

Negotiators in Vienna have not set a hard deadline for the talks, but all sides have acknowledged that time is running out on getting a deal.

Mr Khatibzadeh said that Iran was also looking to push talks along but put the blame on the other parties. He said: “The other side cannot move like a turtle and expect us to move with the speed of light.”

Diplomats have indicated that the talks could end in the next few weeks, at the end of January or beginning of February.

Updated: June 19, 2023, 1:04 PM