France warned on Wednesday that Iran had only days to accept an agreement on its nuclear program during talks in Vienna, while Tehran’s chief negotiator vowed that the deal was closer than ever.
“It’s not a matter of weeks, it’s a matter of days,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told the Senate, adding that a major crisis would erupt if no agreement was reached.
The Vienna talks, which include Iran, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia directly and the United States indirectly, resumed in late November with the aim of restoring the 2015 deal.
This deal offered Tehran sanctions relief in return for restrictions on its nuclear program, but the United States unilaterally withdrew in 2018 and reimposed severe economic sanctions, prompting Iran to backtrack on its commitments.
“We are closer than ever to an agreement,” Iran’s chief negotiator Ali Bagheri wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. “Our negotiating partners must be realistic, avoid stubbornness and stick to the lessons of the past four years. It is time to make their own serious decisions.”
Earlier today, Tehran called on the US Congress to say that Washington would comply if an agreement was reached in Vienna.
“In principle, public opinion in Iran cannot accept as a guarantee the words of a head of state, let alone the United States, because of the Americans’ withdrawal” in 2018, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian told the Financial Times in an interview published on his ministry’s website. .
He stressed that he asked the Iranian negotiators to suggest to the Western parties that “at least their parliaments or the heads of their parliaments, including the US Congress, can declare in the form of a political statement their commitment to the agreement.”
In 2018, then-US President Donald Trump reimposed sanctions on Iran, hurting the country’s economy. In response, Tehran ramped up its nuclear activities, violating the terms of the 2015 agreement, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Negotiations in Vienna seek to return Washington to the nuclear deal, including by lifting sanctions against Iran, and ensuring Tehran’s full compliance with its obligations.
We need political decisions from the Iranians. “They have a very clear choice,” said France’s Le Drian.
“Either they unleash a serious crisis in the coming days…or they accept an agreement that respects the interests of all parties, especially those of Iran,” he said.
He described the deal as “at hand” and noted that there was now agreement on an agreement between European powers as well as China, Russia and the United States.
But he said time is running out as Iran continues to ramp up its nuclear activities.
“The longer this continues, the more Iran will accelerate its nuclear actions,” he said.