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Talk of Imminent Iran Deal Is “Very Premature,” U.S. Official Says

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said on Wednesday that Iran is “optimistic” but won’t cross its red lines in the Vienna talks.
U.S. Iran envoy Rob Malley. Photo: Mazen Mahdi/AFP via Getty Images
U.S. Iran envoy Rob Malley. Photo: Mazen Mahdi/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. and Iran are close to a return to the 2015 nuclear deal but several “difficult issues” remain unresolved, a senior Biden administration official told Axios on Wednesday.

Why it matters: At the moment, neither side seems willing to compromise on its remaining red lines, and the official said the outcome could still be no deal at all.

The latest: Iran’s chief negotiator, Ali Bagheri Kani, is expected to return to Tehran on Wednesday night for what could be final consultations about the nuclear deal.

State of play: Out of all the comments emerging from the delegations in Vienna, those from U.S. envoy Rob Malley and his team have been the most skeptical that a deal is imminent to restore the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

  • The senior U.S. official told me that the statements from Iranian officials and some European negotiators saying a deal could be reached within days are “very premature speculations.”
  • “There is very little time left to resolve the remaining issues given the pace of Iran’s nuclear advances and what it means for the viability of the JCPOA. Until these issues are dealt with, there is no deal,” the official said.
  • EU political director Enrique Mora, who is coordinating the Vienna talks, tweeted on Tuesday that the negotiations were near an end but “the result is still uncertain” and “key issues need to be fixed.”

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