EU’s top foreign policy chief said this Monday that the Iran nuclear deal is ‘in danger’ due to the divergence in negotiations between Tehran and Washington.
It was on this Monday that Josep Borrell, high representative of foreign affairs and security policy for the European Union, expressed concerns over the revival of Iran’s nuclear deal. He noted in a news conference that he was “less confident” in a revival of the nuclear accord especially after Iran’s latest response to an EU-drafted final text that was received last week.
“We were converging to a closer position. But then the last interaction is not converging, [it] is diverging… If the process doesn’t converge, the whole process is in danger,” Borrell said, adding also that “I’m sorry to say that I am less confident today… about the convergence of the negotiation process and about the prospect of closing the deal right now.” However, Borrell said he will keep consulting with all of the other JCPOA participants, and in particular the US to find a way to resolve the issue.
Last week, Iran announced that it sent a response to the European Union’s ‘final text’ after the United States did the same a week before. “The sent text has a constructive approach with the aim of finalizing the negotiations,” Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Nasser Kanani said in a statement then.
But Iran’s response was apparently not very much interesting for Washington. The US State Department announced last Friday that it received Iran’s response through the EU Coordinator but described it as ‘not constructive’. “We are studying it and will respond through the EU, but unfortunately it is not constructive,” the State Department spokesperson said.
It was early in August that as the latest efforts to revive the Iran nuclear deal, EU sent both sides what it called the “final text” of a revived deal to limit Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. It was hoped that this final text can put an end to more than 16 months of negotiations and restore the nuclear deal, from which former US president Donald Trump withdrew unilaterally in 2018. Iran and the US have since exchanged responses on sticking points to fully implement the nuclear pact, but no tangible result has been achieved so far.
What are the obstacles in the way of reviving JCPOA?
One of the most controversial obstacles to reach an agreement between Tehran and Washington is what Iran calls the economic guarantees. Iranian officials have asked several times during recent weeks that the US must give strong and unbreakable guarantees that even if it wants to withdraw from the new deal, economic sanctions can’t be re-imposed on Iran.
However, the US is only focused on restoring limits to Tehran’s nuclear capabilities so that the country can’t acquire nuclear weapons, an accusation mostly from US and Israel regarding Iran’s nuclear program.
In addition, Iran also has demanded that its nuclear case in the International Atomic Energy Agency be closed before any deal is made. In a press conference last month, Iran’s president Ebrahim Raisi said the IAEA’s ongoing probe concerning previous nuclear activities by Iran must be closed. “When we talk about negotiations, all of the issues of additional protocols must be resolved,” Raisi said.
Iran fears that if another agreement is made, the United States can very well restore to the IAEA inspections of historical issues to once again withdraw from the new deal, just like what it did back in 2018.