White House Official Says US and Iran in ‘Ballpark’ of a Nuclear Deal

Russia's envoy in Vienna said an agremeent could be reached by the end of next month

Brett McGurk, the top Middle East official on the National Security Council, said Thursday that the US and Iran are “in the ballpark of a possible deal” in Vienna, where the two countries have been engaged in indirect negotiations to revive the nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA.

McGurk didn’t elaborate further and also warned there’s a “very real” chance that the talks “collapse soon.” But his remarks still marked the most positive comments made by a Biden administration official since the negotiations resumed at the end of November.

Russia’s envoy in Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov, also had positive things to say about the negotiations in comments on Wednesday, predicting that a deal could be reached by the end of next month. “If the talks continue at the pace they’re currently going, in principle, it’s quite realistic to reach agreement by the end of February,” he said.

The major sticking point between the US and Iran in Vienna appears to be over guarantees that the US won’t leave the JCPOA again if it is revived. Because the agreement is not a treaty, future US administrations are not bound by it, and Iran fears the next US president could repeat what Trump did.

In earlier negotiations with the previous Iranian government, Tehran was willing to settle for a guarantee that President Biden would stay in the deal during his term in office, but Biden refused to make the promise.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of Antiwar.com, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.