Iran talks endgame state of play: E3 negotiators briefly leave Vienna; IAEA DG Grossi flies to Iran
Iran FM says if a deal reached that meets Iran's red lines, he would be prepared to come to Vienna.
Negotiators from the three European parties to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal left Vienna today (March 4), saying a deal was close and they were ready to return to Vienna soon. Their departure came as International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi flew to Tehran for meetings Saturday with Iranian officials to try to resolve the safeguards issue.
“We are close,” lead British negotiator Stephanie Al-Qaq wrote on Twitter. “E3 negotiators leaving Vienna briefly to update Ministers on state of play. Ready to return to talks soon.”
The departure of the three European negotiators was not a walk-out from the talks, an official indicated. Lead Iranian negotiator Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani and lead US negotiator Rob Malley were expected to stay in Vienna and continue working.
“It’s not” a walkout, Ali Vaez, director of the Iran program at the International Crisis Group, said.
However, the US and Iran are still “stuck again” on a couple issues, Vaez said, thought to involve the designation of the IRGC and economic guarantees issue.
Asked if he thought it was possible to get unstuck on the final issues, a European negotiator said: “I believe so.”
On Thursday, amid statements from multiple officials that they were close to a deal on reviving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, a senior US official cautioned that closing the final gaps is not a sure thing.
“We don’t have a deal and there is absolutely no certainly we will get one,” the US official told me.
The Iran foreign ministry also cautioned against “premature” reports of “good news.”
“The Vienna talks still continue,” the Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh tweeted Thursday. “Premature good news does not substitute [for a] good agreement.
“Nobody can say the deal is done, until all the outstanding remaining issues are resolved,” Khatizbadeh’s tweet continued. “Extra efforts needed. Everybody is now focused on the final critical steps.”
European Union coordinator Enrique Mora also cautioned that while the Iran talks were in their “final stages,” success was not guaranteed.
“Some relevant issues are still open and success is never guaranteed in such a complex negotiation,” the Spanish diplomat tweeted Thursday.
“Doing our best in the coordinator’s team,” Mora continued. “But we are definitely not there yet.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, in a call today with European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, indicated if a deal was struck that met Iran’s red lines, he would be ready to come to Vienna.
“The hurry of Western parties cannot make Iran cross its redlines,” the Iranian foreign minister said, according to an Iranian readout of the call, Iranian journalist Abas Aslani reported.
“The presence of the foreign ministers in Vienna and the announcement of the final agreement are subject to observing the redlines of Iran, including the issue of effective economic guarantees,” the Iranian readout continued, according to Aslani.