Both the US and Iran are signaling that the negotiations in Vienna to revive the nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, are in the final phase. But both sides say an agreement hinges on the other making a decision.
Ali Bagheri Kani, Iran’s leading negotiator, wrote on Twitter Wednesday that a deal is “closer than ever” and said it was up to the other side to make a decision.
“After weeks of intensive talks, we are closer than ever to an agreement; nothing is agreed until everything is agreed, though,” Bagheri Kani wrote. “Our negotiating partners need to be realistic, avoid intransigence and heed lessons of past 4yrs. Time for their serious decisions.”
Over in Washington, State Department spokesman Ned Price said the Vienna talks are entering a “decisive period.” He said that “in the coming days,” the US will know if Iran is serious about reviving the JCPOA.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian also put the decision on Iran. “It is not a question of weeks, it is a question of days,” he said. “They [Iran] have a very clear choice, either they unleash a serious crisis in the next days… or they accept an agreement that respects the interests of all the parties.”
Over the past week, Iranian officials have been clear that an agreement comes down to whether or not the US is willing to give Iran the necessary sanctions relief. One of Iran’s primary concerns is the possibility of the next US administration withdrawing from the JCPOA as President Trump did.
Since the JCPOA is not a treaty, the next president would not be bound by law to abide by the agreement. Virtually every Republican in Congress is opposed to the JCPOA, making it impossible for President Biden to get the two-thirds approval in the Senate needed to turn the deal into a treaty.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian called on Congress to make a “political statement” declaring the US commitment to the JCPOA, but there’s little chance that would happen.