US says nuclear deal could be imminent if Iran 'shows seriousness'

Negotiators have been speaking around the clock in Vienna in hopes of reaching an agreement

Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani arrives at the Palais Coburg, a site where closed-door nuclear talks take place, in Vienna, Austria, on Tuesday, February 8. AP Photo / Lisa Leutner
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A US state department representative has said a nuclear agreement with Iran could be possible within days.

The US said substantial progress has been made in Vienna and a deal could be coming soon if Iran “shows seriousness".

In a statement given to AFP, the representative said substantial progress has been made in the past week.

It said: “If Iran shows seriousness, we can and should reach an understanding on mutual return to full implementation of the JCPOA within days. Anything much beyond that would put the possibility of return to the deal at grave risk.”

A draft of the deal has focused on the unfreezing of Iranian funds and the release of western prisoners but does not include waivers on oil sanctions, diplomats have reportedly said.

The talks began early in President Joe Biden's term before taking a pause to allow for a new Iranian president to take office. They have been moving ahead at a rapid rate since November.

The goal of the talks has been to find a path to restore the 2015 nuclear deal, which the US pulled out of.

The talks involve all the original signatories of the JCPOA — Britain, China, France, German, Russia, the US and the EU.

Other parties in Vienna, including France, China and Iran, have, over the course of the past week, said a deal could be on the horizon.

Russia's ambassador in Vienna took to Twitter to highlight the round-the-clock talks diplomats are holding in Vienna in order to speed up the pace of the talks.

Mikhail Ulyanov also tweeted about the recent uptick in anti-JCPOA rhetoric in public forums. Over the past week, as the deal has headed towards its final stages, the US congress and many Republican pundits have spoken out against Biden's current negotiations.

Congressional Republicans' distaste for diplomacy with Iran is well-documented since the 2015 JCPOA and has been a point of concern for Tehran. Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian called on the US Congress to say Washington would commit if an agreement is reached in Vienna.

Iranian authorities said in 2018 they wanted a “guarantee” that an agreement would be implemented as the potential of US political turnover had once more brought that into question.

Updated: February 18, 2022, 6:37 AM