EU puts forward new draft text to revive Iran nuclear deal

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FILE PHOTO: Iran's Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian meets European Union foreign policy chief Borrell in Tehran
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(Reuters) - The European Union's foreign policy chief said on Tuesday he has proposed a new draft text to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, saying there is no room left for further major compromises.

"I have now put on the table a text that addresses, in precise detail, the sanctions lifting as well as the nuclear steps needed to restore the JCPOA," the European Union's Josep Borrell wrote in an essay in the Financial Times. He was referring to the 2015 deal called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

"After 15 months of intense, constructive negotiations in Vienna and countless interactions with the JCPOA participants and the U.S., I have concluded that the space for additional significant compromises has been exhausted," he added.

Ali Bagheri Kani, Iran's lead nuclear negotiator, confirmed Borrell had put forth a new proposal, adding on Twitter, "We, too, have our own ideas, both in substance & form, to conclude the negotiations which would be shared."

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters that Washington was reviewing the "draft understanding" Borrell shared with Iran and other parties to the 2015 deal and would respond directly to the EU.

Borrell did not provide details about his proposal, but he suggested - as many Western officials have before - that time was running out to restore the deal under which Iran limited its nuclear program in return for relief from economic sanctions.

"It is now time for swift political decisions to conclude the Vienna negotiations on the basis of my proposed text and to immediately return to a fully implemented JCPOA," he wrote. "If the deal is rejected, we risk a dangerous nuclear crisis, set against the prospect of increased isolation for Iran and its people."

Under the nuclear pact, Tehran limited its uranium enrichment program, a potential pathway to nuclear weapons, though Iran says it seeks only civilian atomic energy, in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.

In 2018, then-U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned the deal, calling it too soft on Iran, and reimposed harsh U.S. sanctions, spurring Tehran to begin breaching the nuclear limits in the pact about a year later.

(Reporting by Parisa Hafezi in Dubai and Arshad Mohammed in Saint Paul, Minn.; Writing by Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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