Rouhani claims a return to the Iran agreement is possible ‘in a short time.’

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Following another round of indirect talks between the nations, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday that the US and Iran could soon enter an agreement to return to the 2015 Iran nuclear pact.

“The talks in Vienna have advanced by about 60 to 70%,” Rouhani said. “If Americans act honestly, we will achieve results in a short period of time.”

Rouhani’s remarks came only a day after Russia’s Ambassador to International Organizations in Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov, tweeted that the talks had “entered the drafting stage.”

However, Western parties to the Iran deal see mid-May, shortly before the end of Iran’s threatened May 21 deadline to end cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, as its target date to reach an agreement.

Iranian diplomat Abbas Araghchi said on Tuesday that his delegation will pull out of negotiations if there are “excessive demands and time wasting.”

The talks between the United States and Iran, mediated by the deal’s European partners – the United Kingdom, France, and Germany – are intended to put all countries back into line with the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which restricts Iran’s ability to enrich uranium while eventually relaxing sanctions.

The JCPOA’s uranium enrichment limits end in 2030, which opponents in Israel and elsewhere argue means the deal gives Iran a legal route to a nuclear bomb.

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The negotiations in Vienna are for Iran to scale back its enrichment from 60% – an unprecedented level that it reached in the last week – to the permissible 5%, as well as its other violations of the JCPOA, and for the US to lift sanctions it placed on Iran after leaving the deal in 2018.

Iran has said it will not make any concessions until all post-JCPOA sanctions are removed, while the US has said it will not lift sanctions without Iran taking serious steps towards compliance.

In Tuesday’s talks, representatives of the countries involved agreed to return to their capitals to discuss practical steps and sequencing for the US to lift sanctions and for Iran to return to compliance. Negotiations are expected to continue in Vienna next week.

Ulyanov tweeted after the talks that the Joint Commission of the JCPOA “took note with satisfaction of the progress made in negotiations to restore the nuclear deal.”

But EU Deputy Secretary-General for foreign policy Enrique Mora said “much more hard work [is] needed.”

“I continue to think that diplomacy is [the] only way forward for the JCPOA to address ongoing challenges,” Mora tweeted.

Earlier Tuesday, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi called on world powers to ensure Iran cannot develop a nuclear weapon in the future, which would be a major shift from the 2015 deal.

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“Iran is undermining the stability of the entire Middle East and the international community must act to not allow Iran to reach nuclear capabilities – not today and not in the future,” Ashkenazi said in a meeting with UK Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove, who was visiting Israel to learn about post-COVID-19 policies.

On Sunday, Israel’s Diplomatic-Security Cabinet held a meeting on the Iranian threat. Sources in the meeting expressed concern that the US is charging into a deal “at all costs” without addressing security concerns.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that the US will follow a “longer and stronger” Iran agreement, with administration officials and US President Joe Biden himself citing potential additional elements such as restricting Iran’s nuclear missile programme and its violence in the Middle East.

Israeli officials have asked whether the US would have enough power to get Iran back to the negotiation table in order to lengthen and reinforce the nuclear agreement if Washington drops sanctions just to reimpose them.

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