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EU's Borrell says Iran's response to nuclear text 'reasonable'

EU High Representative Josep Borrell said he hoped the American response would "put an end to the negotiations."
Josep Borell

Iran’s response to the EU proposal to salvage the nuclear accord was “reasonable,” the European Union's foreign policy chief said on Monday, adding that he hoped the United States would soon share its own views. 

Iran submitted its formal response last week to what the EU described as a “final” text after some 16 months of EU-mediated indirect talks between Washington and Tehran aimed at reviving the nuclear agreement. Known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the 2015 deal put curbs on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

EU High Representative Josep Borrell told a press conference in the Spanish city of Santander on Monday that the United States has yet to respond to the Iranian position.

"There was a proposal from me as coordinator of the negotiations saying, 'This is the equilibrium we reached, I don't think we can improve it on one side or the other,' … and there was a response from Iran that I considered reasonable," Borrell told reporters. 

"It was transmitted to the United States, which has not yet responded formally. … I hope the response will put an end to the negotiations," he added.

The United States has said it is studying the text and will share its views privately with the EU. On Sunday, President Joe Biden discussed the negotiations with the leaders of the European parties to the deal — Germany, France and the United Kingdom, according to a White House readout. 

Why it matters: Talks to revive the nuclear pact stalled earlier this year, partially over Iranian demands that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps be removed from the formal US list of terrorist organizations. Iran has also sought guarantees that future presidential administrations won’t unilaterally abandon the deal as former President Donald Trump did in 2018. More recently, the Iranians have demanded the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency close its three-year investigation into nuclear material discovered at three of the country’s old but undeclared sites.

On Monday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanani accused Washington of stalling. “What matters so far is procrastination from the American side on offering a response,” he told reporters. 

What else: Iran has also said it’s ready to swap prisoners with the United States. The Islamic Republic has imprisoned or imposed travel restrictions on several US-Iranian citizens, including Morad Tahbaz, Siamak Namazi, Baquer Namazi and Emad Shargi. 

“This issue is separate from the talks to lift the sanctions,” Kanani said on Monday. “We are ready to discuss the release of prisoners outside of those negotiations.”

Last week, a senior Iranian judiciary official called on the United States to release its jailed Iranians, many of whom are held for sanctions violations. 

Know more: Sources tell Ali Hashem that a revived nuclear agreement will pave the way for negotiations on outstanding issues, including a potential prisoner swap.

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