France says still far from reviving 2015 Iran nuclear deal

Western diplomats have indicated they are hoping to have a breakthrough by the end of January or early February, but sharp differences remain with the toughest issues still unresolved.

 French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian speaks at a news conference following a meeting with NATO's Secretary General and the French defence minster in Paris, France. (photo credit: Bertrand Guay/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo)
French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian speaks at a news conference following a meeting with NATO's Secretary General and the French defence minster in Paris, France.
(photo credit: Bertrand Guay/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo)

Iran and world powers are still far from any agreement to revive their 2015 nuclear deal despite making some progress at the end of December, France's foreign minister said on Tuesday.

Indirect talks between Iran and the United States on salvaging the 2015 Iran nuclear deal resumed on Jan. 3.

Western diplomats have indicated they are hoping to have a breakthrough by the end of January or early February, but sharp differences remain with the toughest issues still unresolved. Iran has rejected any deadline imposed by Western powers.

"The discussions are ongoing. They are slow, too slow and that creates a gap that jeopardizes the chance of finding a solution that respects the interests of all sides," Jean-Yves le Drian told a parliamentary hearing.

"Bits of progress were made at the end of December, but we are still far from concluding this negotiation."

 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. (credit: EU DELEGATION IN VIENNA/HANDOUT VIA 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. (credit: EU DELEGATION IN VIENNA/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

The eighth round of talks, the first under Iran's new hard-line President Ebrahim Raisi, resumed after adding some new Iranian demands to a working text.

Iran refuses to meet directly with U.S. officials, meaning that other parties -- Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia -- must shuttle between the two sides.

Little remains of that deal, which lifted sanctions against Tehran in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear activities. Then-President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of it in 2018, reimposing U.S. sanctions, and Iran later breached many of the deal's nuclear restrictions and kept pushing well beyond them.