The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said on Friday he was optimistic about concluding an Iran nuclear deal within the “next few weeks” amid warnings that the window for a deal was quickly closing.
Iran, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China spent months trying to revive the original Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was compromised when former US President Donald Trump was put at risk. It withdrew from the deal in 2018. Despite optimism last year that a new deal could be reached, talks failed to produce a breakthrough and by Christmas the situation had essentially returned to what it was at the start of the summer.
However, Borrell said Friday that recent talks have seen some progress.
“The climate has improved since Christmas,” he told reporters after an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers in the French city of Brest. “I was pessimistic before but now I think we can come to a deal.”
“In the next few weeks, I hope to be able to share with you the final results” of the deal, he added. “I hope we can secure the agreement.”
Speaking alongside Borrell, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said it was “vital” that the negotiations “succeed”, but sounded less optimistic as he warned that the pace of negotiations was not enough.
“These negotiations are progressing very slowly,” Le Drian said. “The choice is to get back to the JCPOA very quickly, or [to accept] new [nuclear] The proliferation crisis with Iran.
He added, “Today I am issuing a state of alert because things are going so slowly that it is difficult to reach a conclusion, and if it continues like this there will be nothing left to negotiate” because Iran has been continuing to produce fissile material and could soon reach a point where it has a nuclear bomb, making The purpose of the transaction is futile.
Under the deal negotiators hope to reach, Iran would have to roll back recent developments in its nuclear program — which were achieved after the United States withdrew from the accord — in exchange for widespread US sanctions relief.
Borrell agreed with this warning: “I think we need to speed things up. As the Secretary said, if Iran becomes a nuclear power we will have achieved nothing. We need to bring the United States back into the agreement and the Iranians must also comply.”