Paris – Negotiations to resurrect a 2015 agreement under which Iran would reduce uranium enrichment in exchange for sanctions relief will be completed in days, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told the country’s lawmakers on Wednesday.
“We are approaching… the hour of truth,” Le Drian said of ongoing talks in Vienna to resurrect the landmark agreement, which former President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018, and Tehran began to withdraw from a year later.
“It’s not a matter of weeks, but of days,” he remarked.
Later that day, Iran’s main negotiator, Ali Bagheri Kani, struck an unexpectedly upbeat tone, claiming that the deal’s participants were “closer than ever to an agreement.”
However, Kani warned that the talks could yet fail.
“Nothing is agreed upon until everything is agreed upon,” he tweeted. “Our negotiating partners must be pragmatic, avoid intransigence, and learn from the past four years.”
“It’s time for them to make some serious decisions,” Kani continued.
Iran and the United States are in the final phase of indirect talks regarding a return to the 2015 nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, mediated by China, Russia, and European parties to the agreement (JCPOA).
Analysts worry that failure to strike an agreement might lead to out-of-control bloodshed in the crisis-ridden region, with Iran rapidly approaching the nuclear threshold that would allow it to manufacture a nuclear weapon.
Tensions in the Middle East have risen in recent weeks, with Iran-backed Houthi insurgents conducting unprecedented missile and drone strikes on the UAE, which is seen as a safe haven in the turbulent region.
The Saudi-led coalition fighting the extremist group replied with the worst onslaught on Houthi-held northern Yemen in years, killing hundreds of people and knocking off the country’s internet.
Le Drian warned on Wednesday that a breakdown in the Vienna talks would result in a “severe disaster.”
“Either [the Iranians] cause a big crisis in the next days – which we could do without – or they accept the accord, which respects the interests of all parties, particularly Iran’s,” he said.
The two and a half months of negotiations in Vienna, according to Le Drian, were “exhausting diplomatic work.”
Iran resumed indirect talks with the US shortly after President Joe Biden assumed office, promising to return to the accord as a presidential candidate. Iran had rebuffed repeated offers from the Trump administration to resume talks after the Obama president withdrew from the agreement.