Negotiations in Vienna
Negotiations in Vienna Handout, Reuters

The US and Iran are “in the ballpark" of a potential nuclear deal, a senior White House official said Thursday.

“We’re in the ballpark of a possible deal. But again, I’m not going to put odds on this. There’s [also] a very real chance that these talks could collapse very soon,” White House National Security Council coordinator for the Middle East Brett McGurk said during a virtual event hosted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

McGurk said that the negotiations between Iran and the West in Vienna had reached a “culmination point."

"We’re going to know very soon whether or not it is possible for the Iranians to return to compliance with the nuclear deal on terms that we and the international community can accept," he added.

“There’s a chance for a deal, and there’s also a pretty good chance there’s not going to be a deal. If there’s no deal, we’re very prepared for that scenario,” he stressed,

Earlier this week, it was reported that the American negotiating team dispatched to Vienna for nuclear talks with Iran has split over disagreements over how tough of a stance towards Tehran the US should take.

Three members of the US team are reportedly at odds with the approach being taken at Vienna, multiple US officials told the Wall Street Journal.

One of the members of the team, Richard Nephew, deputy special envoy to Iran, is said to have quit the team entirely.

Two others, not named in the report, have “stepped back from the talks” over frustrations with the soft negotiating stance taken in Vienna.

Officials cited in the report said that the team, led by State Department veteran Robert Malley, is divided over a number of issues, including how firmly to enforce existing sanctions on Iran, and whether to walk away from the negotiating table if Tehran continues to move forward with its nuclear program as talks drag on.

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