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Iran responds to EU “final” nuclear text, calls for US flexibility

In the latest attempt to salvage a 2015 nuclear deal, Iran responded on Monday to a “final” draft text composed by the European Union, which has been acting for months as an intermediary between Washington in Tehran to revive the pact.

The news was spread by an EU official cited by Reuters, who went on to say that the Iranian foreign minister called on the US to show flexibility to resolve three remaining issues.

Reuters reported that the EU official provided no details on what Iran’s response to the text was.

“We will submit our final conclusion in black and white to the European Union coordinator by 00:00 hours tonight. If the US response is realistic and flexible, a deal will be made. If the US doesn’t show flexibility, then we should talk further,” Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said on the sidelines of a ceremony to commemorate Iran’s Journalist’s Day on Monday.

“There are three issues that if resolved, we can reach an agreement in the coming days,” he said earlier on Monday, suggesting Tehran’s response would not be a final acceptance or rejection.

“We have told them that our red lines should be respected… We have shown enough flexibility… We do not want to reach a deal that after 40 days, two months or three months fails to be materialised on the ground,” he stressed.

But for the US, “extraneous” issues stand in the way, namely Tehran’s demands that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog, closes a probe into unexplained uranium traces in Iran and that its Revolutionary Guards come off a US terrorism list.

Whether or not Teheran and Washington have a handshake over the EU’s “final” offer, neither is likely to ditch the pact as it, according to analysts, diplomats and officials, serves both sides’ interests.

For the Biden administration, the agreement seems like the only way to keep Iran’s nuclear programme in check as economic pressure, which has been in use since Donald Trump’s presidency, has shown few positive results, especially now that countries such as China and India continue to buy Iranian oil.

The oil demand and price hike triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Moscow’s public support for Tehran have convinced Iran that it can afford to wait.

However, saying that no progress on the deal would have little recoil for the Middle East is inaccurate. A negotiation failure would mean that Iran’s nuclear ambitions would continue to grow just like its enriched uranium stock. Furthermore, Mohammad Eslami, the head of Iran’s atomic energy organisation, said that the country had the means to create an atomic bomb.

Thus, should the negotiations fail and enter another stalemate, a regional war could become more likely with Israel threatening military action against Iran if diplomacy does not work out a way to prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear weapons capability.

Iran, which has long denied having such ambition, has warned of a “crushing” response to any Israeli attack.

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