EU puts forward draft text to revive Iran nuclear deal

US State Department spokesman Ned Price says Washington is reviewing the 'draft understanding'

Josep Borrell, the EU's foreign policy chief, at the European Council in Brussels on July 18. He has proposed a new draft text to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. AFP
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The European Union's foreign policy chief said on Tuesday he has proposed a new draft text to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, saying there is no room left for further major compromises.

"I have now put on the table a text that addresses, in precise detail, the sanctions lifting as well as the nuclear steps needed to restore the JCPOA," Josep Borrell wrote in an essay in the Financial Times. He was referring to the 2015 deal called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

"After 15 months of intense, constructive negotiations in Vienna and countless interactions with the JCPOA participants and the US, I have concluded that the space for additional significant compromises has been exhausted," he said, according to Reuters.

Ali Bagheri Kani, Iran's lead nuclear negotiator, confirmed Mr Borrell had put forward a new proposal, adding on Twitter: "We, too, have our own ideas, both in substance & form, to conclude the negotiations which would be shared."

Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani listens to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during a meeting in Tehran on June 23. AP

US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters that Washington was reviewing the "draft understanding" Mr Borrell had shared with Iran and other parties regarding the 2015 deal and would respond directly to the EU.

Mr Borrell did not provide details about his proposal, but he suggested — as many western officials have before — that time was running out to restore the deal under which Iran limited its nuclear programme in return for relief from economic sanctions.

"It is now time for swift political decisions to conclude the Vienna negotiations on the basis of my proposed text and to immediately return to a fully implemented JCPOA," he wrote. "If the deal is rejected, we risk a dangerous nuclear crisis, set against the prospect of increased isolation for Iran and its people."

Under the nuclear pact, Tehran limited its uranium enrichment programme, a potential pathway to nuclear weapons, although Iran says it seeks only civilian atomic energy, in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.

In 2018, then-US president Donald Trump abandoned the deal, calling it too soft on Iran, and re-imposed harsh US sanctions, spurring Tehran to begin breaching the nuclear limits in the pact about a year later.

Updated: July 27, 2022, 4:59 AM