Efforts to revive the nuclear deal with Iran were brought back from the brink of collapse when Tehran revised its stance, under pressure from Russia and China and clear warnings that the EU and US were preparing to withdraw.
The cautiously optimistic assessment was made at the beginning of the seventh round of talks on the future of the nuclear agreement in Vienna. It follows a series of talks viewed as disastrous last week in which the US and EU alleged Iran backed on compromises reached in previous rounds.
Russian ambassador to the talks, Mikhail Ulyanov, said: âWe have managed to resolve a number of misunderstandings that have created some tension. All have confirmed their commitment to productive work [to restore the nuclear agreement]. “
Even so, Joe Biden warned that the United States is preparing “additional measures” against Iran as fears remain that the talks may still fail.
“The president has asked his team to be prepared in case diplomacy fails and we have to turn to other options,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
The British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss had warned that the talks were the last chance for Iran to adhere to the guidelines again. Israel prepares military strikes in the expectation that talks will fail and that the Iranian nuclear program would not be curtailed by a larger multilateral deal.
European diplomats admitted on the eve of the talks that some political groups in Iran wanted to withdraw from the nuclear deal. But Russia claimed Iran showed up on Thursday with a revised approach and a willingness to negotiate texts agreed during the first round of talks, which ended in June, rather than entirely new proposals on sanctions and compliance with Iran’s 2015 agreement presented last week.
The Iranian chief negotiator Ali Bagheri also sounded more optimistic: âWhat I felt today was different than last Friday. I felt that other parties have a more serious willingness to engage in effective and results-oriented talks … What Iran proposed last week reflects its views in the June 20 draft. We will continue to talk. “
The EU diplomats had privately trusted Russia and, to a lesser extent, China, and privately convinced Iran that its new demands for a more comprehensive lifting of US economic sanctions were unrealistic.
The struggle for texts does not mean that the remaining major disagreements will be easily resolved, but last week the US asked whether the Iranian regime elected in June was interested in reaching an agreement or whether it was moving quickly with its domestic nuclear program.