A German negotiator involved in the negotiations to revive the Iran nuclear deal told CNBC that “substantial” progress had been made during the talks before they were put on hold. The German official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Berlin and other JCPOA signatories expected the US and Iran to reach a deal quickly before the talks first started in April.
“In March, our determination and that of our American friends was to get this done quickly. It took longer than we thought. But I think, in June, another two weeks of serious negotiation and political will, we could have had it,” the German official said.
“As it always is in these kinds of negotiations, the most complicated points were left to the end and we’re not resolved, but I would say, we started with a blank piece of paper and by June we had four different texts and something like 1,520 pages of the agreement hammered out,” the official added.
The last round of talks concluded on June 20th, and they have been put on hold while Iran transitions governments. The negotiations are expected to resume soon after Iran’s incoming President Ebrahim Raisi is sworn in on Thursday. He was formally endorsed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday.
Since the talks were put on hold because of Iran’s election, the US and its Western allies are blaming Iran for stalling the process. But the negotiations have only dragged out due to the Biden administration’s refusal to lift all Trump-era sanctions, which is what it would take for the US to return to compliance with the JCPOA.
When asked about what issues haven’t been resolved, the German official said Iran is concerned the US would just withdraw from the JCPOA again as the Trump administration did in 2018. “They want to guarantee that there won’t be any Trump 2.0 as long as they are in full compliance, that the Americans won’t simply draw out of the agreement again,” the official said.
Last week, Khamenei said one reason the talks have been stalled is that the US wouldn’t provide guarantees that it would not withdraw from the deal again or agree to mechanisms Iran could use to verify sanctions relief. He also said the US wants to add a sentence to the JCPOA that would require Iran to negotiate other issues, something the German official mentioned. “There are other issues we need to talk about in follow-on talks which the Iranians are not willing to commit to,” the official said.