May 27, 2022

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US envoy not confident Iran nuclear deal imminent

The U.S. special envoy for Iran said on Sunday that he is not confident that a nuclear deal between Tehran and other world powers is imminent, lowering the prospect of an agreement after nearly a year of talks.

“I can’t be confident it is imminent… A few months ago we thought we were pretty close as well,” Robert Malley said at the Doha Forum international conference, according to Reuters.

“In any negotiations, when there’s issues that remain open for so long, it tells you something about how hard it is to bridge the gap,” he added.

Iran and world powers have been at the negotiating table in Vienna for 11 months trying to hammer out a nuclear agreement, after then-President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in 2018. Once the U.S. pulled out from the Obama-era agreement, Iraq started breaching the limits that were agreed to under the deal, Reuters noted, adding that a restoration of the deal would compel the U.S. to lift some sanctions off of Iran in exchange for Tehran limiting its nuclear program.

The U.S. special envoy’s remarks come as Iran is striking an optimistic tone. Kamal Kharrazi, a senior advisor to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said a nuclear deal is imminent.

“Yes, it’s imminent. It depends on the political will of the United States,” Kharrazi said, according to Reuters.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken also discussed the ongoing nuclear talks on Sunday, saying during a news conference alongside Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid “when it comes to the most important element, we see eye-to-eye,” according to The Associated Press.

“We are both committed, both determined that Iran will never acquire a nuclear weapon,” he added.

Blinken said he believes reinstating the nuclear deal with Iran “is the best way to put Iran’s program back in the box it was in.”

Lapid on Sunday said that while the U.S. and Israel disagree on how to react to Iran’s nuclear agenda, the two allies will work together to stop Tehran from “going nuclear.”

“We have disagreements about the Iran deal and its ramifications, but an open and incisive dialogue is part of the power of our friendship,” Lapid said, according to The Jerusalem Post. “Israel and the US will continue to work together to prevent Iran from going nuclear.”

Iran and other world powers are still negotiating the foreign terrorist organization (FTO) designation against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), according to Reuters.

The military force was placed on the FTO list in 2019, but Tehran has called on the U.S. to remove it.

“IRGC is a national army and a national army being listed as a terrorist group certainly is not acceptable,” Kharrazi said, according to Reuters.

Malley, meanwhile, reportedly said that regardless of the path forward on a nuclear deal with Iran, Washington will keep some sanctions on the IRGC.

Iran is also asking for promises from the U.S. that a future president will not remove America from the deal, the news service noted.

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