EU awaits American response to draft nuclear deal with Iran

Top European diplomat says most countries support proposed agreement

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said most countries supported the draft nuclear deal. AP
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A proposed deal to restore limits on Iran's nuclear activities is supported by most of the countries involved but the Americans are yet to give their verdict, the European Union's top diplomat said on Tuesday.

Josep Borrell said Iran had asked for a few adjustments to the draft deal put forward by the EU after more than a year of negotiations with Britain, Germany, France, Russia, China and indirectly the US.

"Most of them agree, but I still don't have the answer from the United States, which I expect during this week," Mr Borrell said in an interview with Spanish broadcaster TVE.

The deal to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon was signed in 2015 but was weakened by the US withdrawal under former president Donald Trump in 2018.

Joe Biden's administration entered negotiations on a revived deal but the talks have stretched on for 16 months, with Russia's presence at the table complicating matters after the invasion of Ukraine.

Negotiators have spent more than a year thrashing out a potential deal with Iran. AFP

Mr Borrell said on Monday that he had informed negotiators that the draft deal "is as far as we have come... I don't think it can be improved on one side or the other".

He said he considered the Iranian response to be reasonable but the process of signing off the deal was taking longer than hoped.

The deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, provides for sanctions on Iran to be partially lifted in exchange for limits on its nuclear activities being observed.

These include a maximum level of uranium enrichment and limits on the types of centrifuge that Iran is allowed to use, restricting its ability to develop a nuclear weapon.

Tehran denies wanting such a weapon, but has openly flouted the limits since Mr Trump abandoned the deal and restored sanctions on Iran four years ago.

"The world would be a much safer place if we could just make this deal work again. Remember, this deal was working fine until president Trump unilaterally decided to drop it," Mr Borrell said.

Updated: August 23, 2022, 9:08 AM