Weeks left to rescue Iran nuclear deal, Western envoys say as talks break

Talks to revive the Iran nuclear deal will be held in Vienna on Friday. Iran is said to have made the request.

 Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS) Enrique Mora and Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani and delegations wait for the start of a meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission in Vienna, Austria December 17, 2021 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS) Enrique Mora and Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani and delegations wait for the start of a meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission in Vienna, Austria December 17, 2021
(photo credit: REUTERS)

Negotiators at indirect talks between Iran and the United States on rescuing the 2015 Iran nuclear deal have weeks not months to reach an agreement, European powers and the talks' coordinator said, as negotiations adjourned on Friday for at least 10 days.

The talks have made little discernible progress since they resumed more than two weeks ago for the first time since Iran's hardline president, Ebrahim Raisi, was elected in June.

Tehran's envoys have sought sweeping changes to the outline of an agreement that had taken shape in six previous rounds of talks, leaving the negotiations largely deadlocked while Western powers warn ever more loudly that time is running out to rein in Iran's fast-advancing nuclear activities.

"We don't have months, we rather have weeks to have an agreement," European Union envoy Enrique Mora told a news conference after a meeting that formally ended the seventh round of talks. He said he hoped they would resume this year, while some officials have mentioned Dec. 27 as a tentative date.

Officials said Iran had requested the break, while Western powers had planned on staying until Tuesday.

 Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani arrives for a meeting of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in Vienna, Austria, November 29, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/LISI NIESNER) Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani arrives for a meeting of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in Vienna, Austria, November 29, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/LISI NIESNER)

Mora said all sides had incorporated Iran's demands into the existing text so as to have a common basis for negotiation, but the three west European powers that signed the 2015 deal sounded less optimistic.

"We hope that Iran is in a position to resume the talks quickly, and to engage constructively so that talks can move at a faster pace," negotiators from France, Britain, and Germany, the so-called E3, said in a statement, adding: "We are rapidly reaching the end of the road for this negotiation."