Talks on restoring the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), showed positive signal of finalizing the agreement and finding solutions to the Iranian nuclear issue, officials said on Sunday.
During a meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission wrapped up on Sunday, representatives from China, France, Germany, Russia, Britain and Iran agreed on many important issues concerning the revival of the JCPOA.
Talks to revive the JCPOA are "closer to a deal," said Enrique Mora, deputy secretary-general and political director of the European External Action Service.
He said that they have made progress on a number of technical issues, and have more clarity on technical documents.
The documents for an agreement on the revival of the JCPOA are almost ready, senior Iranian nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi was quoted by the official IRNA news agency as saying on Sunday.
"We are closer to an agreement ever than before, but bridging the gaps ... requires decisions by the parties," he said, adding that some issues still need to be resolved.
The U.S. government withdrew from the JCPOA in May 2018 and unilaterally re-imposed sanctions on Iran. In response, Iran gradually stopped implementing parts of its JCPOA commitments from May 2019.
U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on Sunday that Washington and Tehran remain divided over how to achieve a mutual return to compliance with the nuclear deal.
"What I would say is that there is still a fair distance to travel on some of the key issues, including on sanctions and on the nuclear commitments that Iran has to make," Sullivan said.
"But the arrow has been pointed in the right direction in terms of the work that's getting done in Vienna," he continued. "We will see if the Iranian negotiators come to the next round of talks, prepared to make the hard choices."
"We are closer to a deal, but we are not still there," Mora told reporters after the meeting.
Mora voiced hope that in the next round, delegations will come back from capitals "with clearer instructions, clearer ideas on how to finally close the deal."
For the next few days, negotiations will be stopped and the parties will return to their capitals, not for further consultations but for decision making, Araqchi noted, expressing the hope for finalizing the agreement in the next session of the meeting.
"Welcomed progress made over last weeks, but difficult decisions remain. It is important to seize the political opportunity, and for all to be flexible," EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell tweeted on Friday.
China acknowledges the EU's efforts to pursue a return to compliance with the Iran nuclear deal, and hopes that the EU will continue to play its coordinating role, and work with all parties concerned to help bring about an expeditious political solution to the Iranian nuclear issue, Geng Shuang, China's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, said ealier this month.
The JCPOA Joint Commission began to meet in offline format on April 6 in Vienna to continue previous discussions in view of a possible return of the United States to the JCPOA and on how to ensure the full and effective implementation of the JCPOA.