US says it Is closer to wrapping up a deal with Iran to salvage Tehran's 2015 nuclear accord with world powers despite some unresolved issues that "can be bridged."

Indirect negotiations between the US and Iran have been ongoing since April 2021.
Indirect negotiations between the US and Iran have been ongoing since April 2021. (Reuters)

A potential deal to return the US and Iran to full compliance with an historic 2015 nuclear agreement is within reach even as some issues remain unresolved, US State Department has said.

"We do think the remaining issues can be bridged. We do think, and as we've said before, we've made significant progress," spokesperson Ned Price told reporters on Wednesday. 

"We are close to a possible deal but we're not there yet."

Indirect negotiations between the US and Iran have been ongoing since April 2021. They have been facilitated by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action's (JCPOA) other participants in protracted shuttle diplomacy.

The agreement placed unprecedented curbs on Iran's nuclear programme and subjected Tehran to an international inspections regime verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Former US president Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018, in a now futile effort to bring Iran back to negotiations for what his administration maintained would be a more wide-ranging agreement.

Trump re-imposed US sanctions lifted under the 2015 pact and imposed new economic penalties.

Rather than pursue negotiations, Tehran chose to take steps away from its nuclear-related commitments in retaliation for Trump's actions.

READ MORE: UN nuclear watchdog chief in Tehran as talks near end

Ukraine situation won't affect deal

A potential stumbling block for a mutual return to compliance was removed on Tuesday when Russia said it received written assurances that the sweeping sanctions the West imposed on Moscow in retaliation for its attack on Ukraine will not affect its role in the JCPOA.

Under the original agreement, Russia took from Iran enriched uranium that was in excess of caps the JCPOA imposed. It is likely to resume that role under any revived deal.

"We got written guarantees, they are included in the text of the agreement of the restoration of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iran nuclear programme, and in those texts, a reliable protection is provided to all projects and directions of activities falling under the JCPOA," according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

READ MORE: Russia receives written US guarantees on Iran nuclear deal

Source: AA