Envoy Cautiously Optimistic About Agreement With US

Envoy Cautiously Optimistic  About Agreement With US
Envoy Cautiously Optimistic  About Agreement With US

An Iranian diplomat said he is “cautiously optimistic” that an agreement between Iran and the United States over nuclear issues would take place in the near future. 
Mehdi Hosseini Matin, head of Iran’s diplomatic mission in the United Kingdom, made the remarks in an interview, amid reports of fresh indirect talks between the two, USA Today reported. 
Since early 2021, Iran and the US have been engaged in negotiations over the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. 
The JCPOA had curbed Iran’s nuclear program in return for sanctions relief, but the US pulled out in 2018 and restored sweeping sanctions that prompted Tehran to react by scaling back its commitments. 
Talks in Vienna, Austria, which were coordinated by the European Union and participated by other five members of the deal, have been stalled since last August, although the exchange of messages has continued through intermediaries. 
The recent discussions are being mediated by Oman, which has stayed neutral, according to Hosseini Matin. 
He said Indonesia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates were also involved in discussions.
Oman’s foreign minister has implicitly confirmed his country’s involvement as a diplomatic broker in an interview with Middle East news and opinion website Al-Monitor.
“I can say they are close,” Sayyid Badr Albusaidi said of the negotiations to reach an informal agreement between Washington and Tehran. “This is probably a question of technicalities.”
The US has not publicly confirmed it is speaking to Iran via third parties.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday denied that there was any sort of imminent agreement with Iran, but said the Biden administration was continuing to explore diplomatic paths.
He, however, seemingly alluded to reportedly indirect talks between with Iran that have occurred in Oman and other channels about trying to lower tensions, saying Iran could demonstrate its willingness to do so through its actions.
Despite US government denials that a new deal is being negotiated with Iran, several unnamed officials told USA TODAY that the two countries are close to reaching an informal agreement aimed at improving Tehran-Washington relations and de-escalating simmering regional tensions.
The agreement, which would not amount to a resumption of the 2015 deal, would limit Iran’s uranium enrichment activities and free American prisoners, among other commitments.
In return, the US would stop adding new sanctions and agree to unfreeze billions of dollars of Iranian assets, but restricted to humanitarian purposes.
This informal agreement may hinge on whether there is a negotiated text or it is purely verbal, according to an analyst cited by the American newspaper. 
“This is because of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, legislation that requires Congress to have the right to review any agreement with Iran.”
He said the Biden administration may want to “avoid the headache” of a congressional review ahead of the US election. 
Republicans in Washington have long warned the White House not to pursue any agreement with Iran that would give Tehran sanctions relief, while Democrats have also expressed deep skepticism over the renewed talks with Iran.
Hosseini Matin, however, said any agreement would require a text.
“There must be a text, an objective text, on the table, to sign it, to talk about it,” he said.
Head of the International Atomic Energy Agency Rafael Grossi said any discussion leading to de-escalation is welcome. 
“If there is any alternative kind of agreements, I hope we will be invited to verify that whatever commitments are taken are for real, and not just a piece of paper,” he said. 

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