Illustration by KL./

By Parisa Hafezi

 – Iran has received Washington’s response to an EU-drafted final offer for saving Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with major powers, Iran‘s foreign ministry said on Wednesday, giving no firm indication of how close they are to narrowing remaining gaps.

After 16 months of fitful, indirect U.S.-Iran talks, with EU officials shuttling between the sides, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Aug. 8 the bloc had laid down a final text and expected a response within a “very, very few weeks.”

“This evening Iran received the U.S. response through the European Union. The careful review of the response has started in Tehran,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said.

Iran will share its view with the EU, as the coordinator of the nuclear talks, upon completion of Tehran’s review.”

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Iran last week responded to the EU’s text with “additional views and considerations” while calling on the United States to show flexibility to resolve three remaining issues.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price confirmed that Washington had responded to Tehran’s comments on the EU text.

“Our review of those comments has now concluded. We have responded to the EU today,” Price said. Read full story

Oil prices ended higher on Wednesday after a volatile trading session on concerns that the United States will not consider additional concessions to Iran in its response to a draft agreement that would restore Tehran’s nuclear deal – and potentially the OPEC member’s crude exports. O/R

Then-U.S. President Donald Trump reneged on the nuclear deal in 2018, saying it was too soft on Iran, and reimposed harsh sanctions on the Islamic Republic, prompting Tehran to start violating the deal’s nuclear curbs a year later.

A revival of the pact appeared close in March before 11 months of indirect talks between Tehran and Washington in Vienna broke down over differences such as Iran‘s demand that the United States provide guarantees that no future president would exit the agreement as Trump did.

U.S. President Joe Biden cannot provide such ironclad assurances because the deal is a political understanding rather than a legally binding treaty.

A senior U.S. official told Reuters on Monday that Iran has dropped some of its main demands on resurrecting the deal to rein in Tehran’s nuclear programme, including its insistence that international inspectors close some probes of its atomic program, bringing the possibility of an agreement closer. Read full story

But Iran‘s nuclear chief, Mohammad Eslami, appeared to contradict that on Wednesday, saying the probes should be closed “before the implementation day” if the 2015 nuclear deal is revived. Read full story

Shadowing the background of the efforts to save the nuclear pact have been threats by Israel to attack Iranian nuclear installations if it deems diplomacy ultimately futile in containing Tehran’s atomic abilities and potential.

Iran has warned it would hit back hard if it were attacked.

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said on Wednesday that “on the table right now is a bad deal” which would give Teheran $100 billion a year to destabilise the Middle East. Read full story

(Reporting by Parisa Hafezi in Dubai;Additional reporting by Daphne Psaledakis in Washington;Editing by Jonathan Oatis, Kirsten Donovan and Matthew Lewis)

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