Josep Borrell
Josep BorrellReuters

The European Union (EU) is making a last-ditch attempt to save the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and break a deadlock triggered by Tehran’s demand that Washington lift its terrorist designation on the Revolutionary Guards, The Financial Times reports.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told The Financial Times he was seeking a “middle way” to end the impasse.

He said he wanted EU negotiator Enrique Mora to visit Tehran to discuss the issue, but added that Iran “was very much reluctant”. He described the diplomatic push as “the last bullet”.

Borrell is considering a scenario whereby the designation on the guards is lifted, but kept in place on other parts of the organization.

“At a certain moment, I will have to say, as coordinator [of the Vienna talks] I make this proposal on the table, formally . . . the only equilibrium point possible would be this one,” Borrell said. “We cannot continue like this forever, because in the meantime Iran continues developing their nuclear programm.”

He added that “the file is on the table of President Biden himself, my discussions with [US Secretary of State Antony] Blinken have reached the limit”.

Iran has gradually scaled back its compliance with the 2015 deal, in response to former US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement in May of 2018, but has held several rounds of indirect talks with the US on a return to the agreement.

Negotiations nearly reached completion in March before Moscow demanded that its trade with Iran be exempted from Western sanctions over Ukraine, throwing the process into disarray.

The deal has also run into trouble in recent weeks over Iranian demands that the US lift its designation of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) as a terrorist organization.

A recent report indicated that the Biden administration is considering removing terrorism sanctions from the IRGC as part of negotiations to restore the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

However, a subsequent report in The Washington Post said that the Biden administration plans to reject the Iranian demand.

Borrell’s comments are in line with a report from last week, in which Western diplomats told The Wall Street Journal that European officials are preparing to make a fresh push to salvage the nuclear deal with Iran, offering to send Mora to Tehran in an effort to break a stalemate in talks.