Although time is running out, progress has been made in the Iran nuclear talks, France’s foreign minister said on Friday.
On Monday, indirect discussions between Iran and the US to save the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement restarted.
Western officials have stated that they want to reach an agreement by the end of January or early February, but there are still significant gaps, with the most difficult topics still unaddressed. Any timeframe imposed by Western nations has been rejected by Iran.
“I’m still optimistic that we’ll be able to achieve an agreement. In the previous few days, some progress has been achieved “BFM TV and RMC Radio interviewed Jean-Yves Le Drian. “We’ve been moving in the right way in recent days, but time is of the importance because there will be nothing to discuss if we don’t obtain an agreement soon.”
After adding some additional Iranian demands to a working draft, the eighth round of negotiations, the first under Iran’s new hardline President Ebrahim Raisi, continued on Monday.
Another positive sign this week was the arrival in Vienna of South Korea’s Vice Foreign Minister to discuss with Iran, the United States and other parties the possible release of $7 billion of frozen Iranian assets held in the Asian country because of U.S. sanctions.
Any release would need to be approved by Washington.
The ministry said in a statement that the vice minister had agreed with the Iranians that the release of the frozen assets “should take place in an urgent manner.”
“It will be discussed at the sanctions removal working groups in Vienna,” an Iranian official said, clarifying that the funds would not be released immediately.
Western powers have said progress was too slow and negotiators had “weeks not months” left before the 2015 deal becomes meaningless.
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.
In an interview with Al Jazeera on Thursday, Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian also suggested the situation was positive, but repeated Tehran’s position that all sanctions must be lifted and that Washington should provide guarantees that it will not pull out again.
Little remains of that deal, which lifted sanctions against Tehran in exchange for restrictions on its atomic activities. Then President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of it in 2018, re-imposing U.S. sanctions, and Iran later breached many of the deal’s nuclear restrictions and kept pushing well beyond them.