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World powers in Berlin insist Iran deal still possible


Antony Blinken told reporters that negotiators working in Vienna to salvage the 2015 accord with Tehran had seen ‘modest progress’

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and European allies insisted it was still possible to revive the Iran nuclear deal but said “time is running out”, after talks in Berlin Thursday.

Blinken told reporters that negotiators working in Vienna to salvage the 2015 accord with Tehran had seen “modest progress in the last couple weeks” but were taking nothing for granted.

Speaking at a joint news conference, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said “urgent progress” was needed in talks aimed at rescuing the deal.

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“The negotiations are in a decisive phase. We need urgent, urgent progress, otherwise we will not be successful in reaching a joint accord.”

He complained that the progress in the meetings was “partial, timid and slow”, adding it was crucial to now “pick up the pace” or risk failure.

– ‘Spiral of nuclear escalation’ –

Negotiations to restore the landmark accord between Tehran and world powers — the United States, France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany — began last year but stopped in June as Iran elected ultraconservative President Ebrahim Raisi.

Blinken last week said there were only “a few weeks left” to save the deal and that the US was ready to look at “other options” if the talks collapse.

Former US president Donald Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from the deal in 2018 prompted Tehran to go back on its commitments.

Baerbock said progress was being hobbled by the fact that “Iran, parallel to the talks, unfortunately continues to turn the spiral of nuclear escalation”.

The West wants Iran to meet a number of requirements including destroying its advanced centrifuges.

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