Iran said on Wednesday the United States had agreed to remove all sanctions on Iran’s oil and shipping, although Germany cautioned that major issues remained at talks between Tehran and world powers to revive a 2015 nuclear deal.
The Iranian remarks, by outgoing President Hassan Rouhani’s chief of staff, echoed previous assertions by officials in Rouhani’s pragmatist camp that Washington is prepared to make major concessions at the talks, underway since April in Vienna.
The talks adjourned on Sunday for a break, two days after Iran held a presidential election won by hardliner Ebrahim Raisi, the Iranian judiciary chief who is on a U.S. blacklist. Raisi is due to replace Rouhani in August.
“An agreement has been reached to remove all insurance, oil and shipping sanctions that were imposed by (former U.S. President Donald) Trump,” Rouhani’s chief of staff Mahmoud Vaezi was quoted as saying by Iranian state media.
Like other Western and Iranian negotiators who have said the talks remain a long way from the conclusion, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Wednesday that Tehran and the powers still had to overcome significant hurdles.
“We are making progress but there are still some nuts to crack,” Maas told a joint news conference with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Maas said a deal was possible even after the election of Raisi, an implacable critic of the West.
U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on Sunday there was still “a fair distance to travel”, including on sanctions and on the nuclear commitments that Iran has to make to salvage the tattered deal.
Iran agreed in 2015 to curbs its uranium enrichment programme, a possible pathway to nuclear weapons, in return for the lifting of international sanctions. Trump abandoned the agreement three years later, calling it flawed to Iran’s advantage, and reimposed harsh sanctions that hammered Iran’s economy.
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