Indirect negotiations in Vienna between the US and Iran to revive the nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, were paused Friday as diplomats are headed back to their capitals for consultations on the talks.
“The participants in the #ViennaTalks on #JCPOA will take a break, not very long, for consultations in the capitals,” Russian envoy Mikhail Ulyanov wrote on Twitter. He added that the negotiations have reached an “advanced stage” and “political decisions are needed.” He said the talks will resume next week.
The European participants in the talks also said political decisions now needed to be made. “January has been the most intensive period of these talks to date,” diplomats from Britain, France, and Germany said in a joint statement. “Everyone knows we are reaching the final stage, which requires political decisions.”
The US and its European allies have set mid-February as an unofficial deadline for the negotiations and have been warning time is running out. The US and Iran are at odds over the verification of sanctions relief and guarantees that Washington won’t leave the JCPOA again.
On Thursday, Brett McGurk, the top Middle East official on Biden’s National Security Council, said the US and Iran are in the “ballpark” of reaching an agreement. While he also warned the talks could collapse at any time, McGurk’s comments were the most positive from the US since the negotiations restarted.