World powers in Berlin insist on possible deal with Iran
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Berlin (AFP) – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his European allies insisted it was still possible to revive the Iran nuclear deal, but said “time is running out”, after talks in Berlin on Thursday.
Blinken told reporters that negotiators working in Vienna to salvage the 2015 deal with Tehran had seen “modest progress over the past two weeks” but were taking nothing for granted.
“My own assessment, speaking to all of our colleagues, is that returning to mutual compliance, it remains possible,” Blinken said.
Speaking at a joint press conference, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said “urgent progress” was needed in talks aimed at salvaging the deal.
“The window for finding a solution is closing,” she said.
“The negotiations are in a decisive phase. We need urgent and urgent progress, otherwise we will not succeed in reaching a common agreement.”
His French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian, also in Berlin for talks focusing mainly on the Ukrainian crisis, warned that “negotiations cannot move so slowly” with Tehran.
He complained that progress in meetings was “partial, tentative and slow”, adding that it was crucial now to “pick up the pace” or risk failure.
Blinken acknowledged that this was a “decisive moment” in the negotiations, adding that “time is running out” to reach an agreement.
“Spiral of Nuclear Escalation”
Their comments came a day after US President Joe Biden said it was ‘not the time to abandon’ talks with Iran, insisting ‘there is progress being made’ .
Negotiations to restore the historic agreement between Tehran and world powers – the United States, France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany – began last year but stalled in June when Iran elected ultra-conservative President Ebrahim Raisi.
Talks on the agreement known as the JCPOA resumed in November.
Blinken said last week that there were only “a few weeks” left to salvage the deal and that the United States was ready to consider “other options” if the talks failed.
The deal offered Iran much-needed relief from sanctions that have crippled its economy, in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.
Former US President Donald Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from the deal in 2018 prompted Tehran to backtrack on its commitments.
Tehran is asking for verification of the easing of sanctions, as well as guarantees that Washington will no longer withdraw from the agreement.
Baerbock said progress was hampered by the fact that “Iran, alongside the talks, unfortunately continues to spin the spiral of nuclear escalation.”
Western powers have complained of slow progress in the talks at a time when Iran has accelerated its nuclear work, for example by increasing uranium enrichment.
The West wants Iran to meet a number of demands, including the destruction of its advanced centrifuges.
The Berlin meeting came a month after a new centre-left-led German government came to power to replace Chancellor Angela Merkel, who led Europe’s biggest economy for 16 years.
© 2022 AFP