‘Right direction’: Iran nuclear officials optimistic on deal

Top negotiators in renewed talks to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal indicated they are optimistic about the possibility of reaching an agreement to impose limits on Tehran’s uranium enrichment.

“We stand five minutes or five seconds from the finish line,” Russian Ambassador Mikhail Ulyanov told reporters outside Vienna’s Palais Coburg on Sunday, four days into the talks. He said there are “three or four issues” left to be resolved.

“They are sensitive, especially for Iranians and Americans,” Ulyanov said. “I cannot guarantee, but the impression is that we are moving in the right direction.”

Enrique Mora, the European Union’s top negotiator, also said he is “absolutely” optimistic about the talks’ progress so far.

“We are advancing and I expect we will close the negotiations soon,” he told Iranian media.

Negotiators from Iran, the United States and the EU resumed indirect talks over Tehran’s tattered nuclear deal Thursday after a months-long standstill in negotiations.

Hours after the US imposed a new batch of sanctions targeting Iran’s petrochemical exports, Tehran responded by issuing an order to feed gas into “hundreds” of advanced centrifuges, further accelerating its nuclear programme.

Iran struck the nuclear deal in 2015 with the US, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China. The deal saw Iran agree to limit its enrichment of uranium under the watch of United Nations inspectors in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

Then US President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled the US out of the accord in 2018, saying he would negotiate a stronger deal, but that didn’t happen. Iran began breaking the deal’s terms a year later.

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