Diplomats said Borrell was referring to Russia’s 11 a.m. request raised last Saturday to apply US sanctions relief to its future dealings with Iran as a condition for participating in a renewed deal.
Borrell said the final text of the new agreement is “basically ready and on the table,” adding that he and his team will remain in touch with all participants to overcome remaining hurdles and finalize the agreement.
But an open pause could also signal an irreversible break, quelling any hope that a deal recovery would be possible.
“It is certainly dangerous. If you lose momentum at this late stage, the dynamics will shift in ways that it may become impossible to resume talks,” said Isfandiar Batmanglij of the European Council on Foreign Relations.
Talks in Vienna focused on setting a timetable for bringing the United States and Iran back into compliance with the 2015 Joint Coordinated Action Plan, as the nuclear deal is known. Under the new agreement, the United States is expected to lift harsh new sanctions imposed after Trump’s withdrawal, and Iran will be required to roll back progress it has made in the meantime on its nuclear program.
The deal was so close that a podium for the final festivities was erected at the Palais Coburg where the talks took place. In recent weeks, diplomats say, Iran has increasingly signaled its willingness to finalize the arrangement.
Diplomats say the outbreak of the Ukraine war is about the geopolitical background to the negotiations, and it is now possible that the fate of the Iran talks could be held hostage to the course of the war.
Informal consultations are expected to continue, negotiators say, to include exploring ways to complete the deal without Russia – something that may be complicated but not impossible. Russia plays a key role in implementing the deal as the country responsible for shipping and storing Iran’s surplus stockpile of enriched uranium, for which another destination will have to be found.
It is also expected that Iran will try to put quiet pressure on Moscow to ease its demands. But a senior Western diplomat said Tehran has also made clear that Iran feels it cannot risk a public rift with Russia by turning its back on Russian concerns.
And participated in the talks, diplomats from Britain, France, Germany and China as well as Iran, the United States and Russia, where Iranian and US delegations met their counterparts in separate hotels because Iran refused to enter into direct talks with the Americans.
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