EU Upbeat on Efforts to Revive Nuclear Deal

Borrell said reaching agreement on the lifting of sanctions and the rollback of Iran’s nuclear activities is “the most important problem” but that he is hopeful of a breakthrough “because both sides have been showing willingness”
EU Upbeat on Efforts to Revive Nuclear Deal
EU Upbeat on Efforts to Revive Nuclear Deal

European diplomats are optimistic about efforts by Iran and the US to close remaining differences on steps to revive the 2015 nuclear deal in the near future, EU high representative for foreign affairs Josep Borrell said.
Both sides are considering written proposals and “I see that we are in the last meters of the game,” Borrell told reporters at the conclusion of a two-day visit to Washington.
The top EU diplomat said, “I don’t know if it’s going to be one week, two weeks, three weeks, but certainly we are in the last steps of the negotiation,” AFP reported. 
Borrell said reaching agreement on the lifting of sanctions and the rollback of Iran’s nuclear activities was “the most important problem” but that he was hopeful of a breakthrough “because both sides have been showing willingness.”
He endorsed the US interpretation of the quick timeline for wrapping up indirect US-Iran talks in Vienna—the latest round of that diplomacy started in Vienna on Tuesday. 
The talks will have to conclude before advances in Iran’s nuclear program make the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal impossible to restore, he said.
A restoration of the deal in its original form could realistically add 1.6 million barrels a day of Iranian crude to global supply within six to nine months of its implementation. If talks are successfully concluded, the timeline cited by US diplomats would suggest Iran’s full reintegration in global oil markets by late 2022 or early 2023.  
Iran has downplayed Washington’s decision on February 4 to restore sanctions waivers on its civilian nuclear program as a “very small” step and has reaffirmed its position that sanctions must be lifted in full in order for the 2015 nuclear deal to be revived.
Talks in Vienna are focused on agreeing to a roadmap and a detailed sequence for lifting US sanctions on Iran and reimposing curbs on Tehran’s nuclear program.
As talks draw toward a finish line, Republican opponents of the Iran diplomacy in Congress are warning President Joe Biden’s administration that they would try to overturn the revived JCPOA. A group of 32 Republican senators wrote to Biden to say they would rely on a 2014 law, the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, to pass a resolution of disapproval against the deal if US-Iran talks are successful.
The law gives members of Congress an opportunity to pass such a resolution within 60 days of receiving notice from the White House of any major changes to the JCPOA. The law was put to use twice, in 2015 and 2017, but Congress both times failed to advance an anti-Iran resolution despite the Republican control of both chambers at that time.
Republicans hope to enroll some congressional Democrats in opposing the deal, but are unlikely to garner two-thirds of votes in both chambers to overturn a likely White House veto, or even 60 votes in the Senate to advance such a resolution. Democrats hold narrow majorities in the Senate and the House of Representatives.



Diplomatic Flurry 

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported that a flurry of diplomacy preceding the resumption of Iran nuclear talks in the Austrian capital on Tuesday suggests sides are trying to close in on a long-sought agreement.  
Iran and China coordinated strategies going into Tuesday’s renewed negotiations in Vienna on reviving world powers’ nuclear deal with Tehran. Russian President Vladimir Putin indicated his country’s position was closely tracking France’s.  
Confidence-building gestures by the US and Iran have generated new optimism that the sides are inching toward an agreement that could see Iran exporting oil again before the end of the year, in exchange for constraints on its nuclear program. But disputes remain over the timing of sanctions relief and which centrifuges Iran will be allowed to operate. 
Oil has dropped this week, snapping seven straight weekly gains, partly because of the progress in the Iranian talks. 
Iran “stressed the need for realism” from the western parties to the talks, according to a Foreign Ministry statement issued after the call late Monday between Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi. China called the Persian Gulf nation a “strategic partner” while suggesting Iran’s principled demands “will receive full attention” at the talks.
The negotiations to restore the 2015 nuclear pact, which unraveled after the Trump administration jettisoned it four years ago, have played up the rising importance of Tehran’s links to Beijing. Analysts have suggested that energy traders weighing the probability of a revived accord pay attention to growing economic relations between the countries. 
But while Tehran’s strengthening links to Beijing and Moscow have long been recognized, alignment between France and Russian President Vladimir Putin potentially signals new momentum in negotiations that have dragged on for 10 months. 
“We agreed that our positions on this matter are very close, or, as diplomats say, coincide,” Putin said after meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron in Moscow on Monday.
Russia’s envoy to the talks, Mikhail Ulyanov, told the Moscow newspaper Kommersant that negotiators have reached the finish line, even as counterparts in the US have suggested significant gaps remain. If an agreement is reached, a preparation period for its implementation will begin, which may take a month or two, Ulyanov was cited as saying. 

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