A potential deal to return the US and Iran to full compliance with an historic 2015 nuclear agreement is within reach even as some issues remain unresolved, the State Department said Wednesday.
'We do think the remaining issues can be bridged. We do think, and as we’ve said before, we’ve made significant progress,' spokesman Ned Price told reporters. 'We are close to a possible deal but we’re not there yet.”
Indirect negotiations between the US and Iran have been ongoing since April 2021. They have been facilitated by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action's (JCPOA) other participants in protracted shuttle diplomacy.
The agreement placed unprecedented curbs on Iran's nuclear program and subjected Tehran to an international inspections regime verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Former US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018, in a now futile effort to bring Iran back to negotiations for what his administration maintained would be a more wide-ranging agreement.
Trump re-imposed US sanctions lifted under the 2015 pact and imposed new economic penalties.
Rather than pursue negotiations, Tehran chose to take steps away from its nuclear-related commitments in retaliation for Trump's actions.
A potential stumbling block for a mutual return to compliance was removed Tuesday when Russia said it received written assurances that the sweeping sanctions the West imposed on Moscow in retaliation for its invasion of Ukraine will not affect its role in the JCPOA.
Under the original agreement, Russia took from Iran enriched uranium that was in excess of caps the JCPOA imposed. It is likely to resume that role under any revived deal.
'We got written guarantees, they are included in the text of the agreement of the restoration of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iran nuclear program, and in those texts, a reliable protection is provided to all projects and directions of activities falling under the JCPOA,' according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
By Michael Hernandez