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EU’s foreign affairs chief proposes new draft text for nuclear deal with Iran

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According to Josep Borrell, the proposed text “represents the best possible deal” and no further major alterations should be expected.

He admitted that the deal did not address human rights issues and Iran’s regional activities that both Washington and the EU are concerned with.

European Union’s foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said that he has proposed a new draft text for the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. 

“After 15 months of intense, constructive negotiations in Vienna and countless interactions with the JCPOA (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) participants and the US, I have concluded that the space for additional significant compromises has been exhausted. I have now put on the table a text that addresses, in precise detail, the sanctions lifting as well as the nuclear steps needed to restore the JCPOA,” Borrell wrote in an essay titled “Now is the time to save the Iran nuclear deal” published in the Financial Times

According to him, the proposed text “represents the best possible deal” and no further major alterations should be expected.

“It is not a perfect agreement, but it addresses all essential elements and includes hard-won compromises by all sides,” Borrell added, noting that he sees “no other comprehensive or effective alternative within reach.”

He admitted that the deal did not address human rights issues and Iran’s regional activities that both Washington and the EU are concerned with.

“It did, however, provide the benefit of winding down the previously expanding Iranian nuclear program and opening it up to strict IAEA (The International Atomic Energy Agency) monitoring and inspections,” Borrell said.

He concluded by urging the sides to reach an agreement “now” to deliver “significant economic and financial dividends as well as strengthen regional and global security.”

Borrell urged Iran to make the “swift” political decision to accept the terms, warning that otherwise “we risk a dangerous nuclear crisis.”

According to Reuters, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said that Washington was reviewing the “draft understanding” Borrell shared with Iran and other parties and would respond directly to the EU

The op-ed comes against the backdrop of comments made earlier this month by U.S. special envoy for Iran Robert Malley, who said that Tehran was just “a matter of weeks” away from having enough enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon, and that recent talks geared towards reviving the JCPOA were “more than a little bit of a wasted occasion.”

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on Tuesday that Jerusalem has the capability to “seriously harm” Iran’s nuclear program. “We are very unsatisfied with the [prospective]agreement, which would be a bad agreement because it would be a temporary delay,” he said.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director Rafael Grossi last week  said Iran’s nuclear program is moving forward rapidly, with little oversight..

If a new nuclear agreement with Tehran is reached, it will be “difficult” to reconstruct Iran’s recent actions, he said in an interview reported by Reuters.

“The bottom line is that for almost five weeks I have had very limited visibility, with a nuclear program that is galloping ahead and, therefore, if there is an agreement, it is going to be very difficult for me to reconstruct the puzzle of this whole period of forced blindness,” said Grossi.

Last month, Iran removed much of the IAEA’s monitoring equipment at its nuclear sites, with Grossi at the time calling the move a potential “fatal blow” to the possibility of forging a deal to curb Tehran’s nuclear progress, according to Reuters. 

Grossi added then that there was a window of just three to four weeks to restore at least some of the oversight before the IAEA lost the ability to piece together in retrospect Iran’s most critical nuclear activities.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors in June passed a draft resolution criticizing Iran over its lack of transparency and failure to cooperate with the agency.

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