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European official blasts Iran text: ‘Moves us very far back’
“Iran has moved us very far back,” E3 official said Sept. 2. “It’s very difficult to know whether this is fixable.”
An official with one of the three European parties to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal blasted the response that Iran sent to the European Union last night, saying it seemed to signal that Iran may not be interested in a deal now.
“Iran has moved us very far back — at a time when, thanks to the EU coordinator’s perseverance, and everyone’s flexibility, we were almost there,” the E3 official said today (Sept. 2).
“It’s very difficult to know whether this is fixable,” he continued. “In any case, Iran has given a clear signal it is not interested in a deal now.”
The United States earlier said the Iranian response it received Thursday night to the text it had sent on Aug. 24 was “not constructive.” But an NSC spokeswoman later noted that this is a negotiation with lots of back and forth, and said some gaps had closed in recent weeks.
“This is a negotiation, with regular back and forth,” NSC spokesperson Adrienne Watson said. “We are studying the response and coordinating with our E3 allies.”
“Some gaps have closed in recent weeks but others remain,” Watson said.
“The President will only conclude a deal that he determines is in the national security interest of the United States,” Watson said.
The E3 official was critical in particular of the new Iranian response reopening an issue that it had not raised in an earlier proposed draft it had sent on Aug. 15.
It “reopens the coordinator’s text on safeguards, which was at the outer limits of our flexibility already - and which they implicitly accepted in their August 15 response,” the E3 official said. “Wholly unreasonable.”
Why does Iran seem to be backtracking?
“I think they believe that time is on their side and that they’d be able to extract more concessions from the US in the winter, which of course is a miscalculation,” suggested Ali Vaez, director of the Iran program at the International Crisis Group.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, meeting with his Russian counterpart in Moscow this week, said Iran was seeking stronger guarantees in the text.
“On guarantees, we need a stronger text,” Amir-Abdollahian said at a joint news conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow on Wednesday (Aug. 31), according to Iranian journalist Abas Aslani. “We’re studying how we can receive stronger guarantees and a stronger text on guarantees.”
Russia’s envoy to the IAEA opined today that he did not think Iran’s suggestions were overly ambitious.
“It seems that Iranian suggestions aren’t over-ambitious and can be accommodated provided there is the necessary political will to complete the Vienna talks,” Amb. Mikhail Ulyanov wrote on Twitter.