Iran and world powers 'very close' to nuclear deal

EU’s Josep Borrell says an agreement will be possible

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian indicated there has been some flexibility in talks. AP

Iran and world powers are “very close” to an agreement to revive their 2015 nuclear deal, which would curb Tehran's nuclear programme in exchange for lifting tough sanctions, the EU's senior diplomat, Josep Borrell, has said.

The statement came as Iran's foreign minister also appeared to show flexibility on an issue which has been a leading sticking point in the talks.

“Now we are very close to an agreement and I hope it will be possible,” Mr Borrell said in an address to the Doha Forum international conference on Saturday. He said he believed a deal could be reached “in a matter of days”.

Enrique Mora, the EU co-ordinator for the nuclear talks, said on Friday he would travel to Tehran on Saturday to meet Iran's chief negotiator.

There are several issues pending. Iran wants the removal of the US foreign terrorist organisation designation against its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said on Saturday that the lifting of US sanctions on the IRGC was among Iran's top demands in talks, but added that senior Guards officials had said that the deal should not be held up over the issue of sanctions if the accord serves the interests of the people.

“But the Guards are among the main institutions in the country … and despite the permission of the Guards officials, this is one of our main issues,” Mr Amirabdollahian told state TV.

He said this week that a nuclear deal could be reached in the short term if the United States is pragmatic.

Officials in Washington have been more cautious in their assessment of efforts to revive the accord, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Tehran has also been seeking guarantees that the United States will not unilaterally withdraw from any agreement.

Then US president Donald Trump abandoned the pact in 2018, prompting Tehran to start breaking its nuclear limits about a year later, and 11 months of on-and-off talks to revive it.

Updated: March 27, 2022, 6:47 AM