US State Department spokesperson Ned Price on Monday expressed some optimism about the prospects of salvaging the Iran nuclear deal, but stressed that divisions remain between the United States and Iran.
“A deal is closer now than it was two weeks ago, but the outcome of these ongoing discussions still remains uncertain as gaps do remain,” Ned Price said at a State Department briefing, according to CNN.
Iran last Monday submitted its response to the European Union's proposed text to revive the 2015 nuclear deal. The proposal, submitted on July 26 by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, has been described by the EU as a “final draft”.
The European Union and United States are studying Iran’s response to the EU proposal.
On Monday, Price said that the US was still conducting consultations, telling reporters, “We are working as quickly as we can, as methodically as we can and as carefully as we can see to it that our response is complete. It takes into account the Iranian feedback and we’ll provide that to the EU as soon as we’re able.”
He also said the US was “conveying (its) feedback directly and privately to the EU,” which serves as mediator between the two sides.
Price indicated Iran had complicated the negotiations, noting the US had been prepared to accept the EU “final text” deal, but Iran “responded with several comments.”
“This is why it has taken us some additional time to review those comments and to determine our response,” he said, according to CNN, adding that “had there been a clean Iranian response, a clear yes answer, I’m not sure that we would be in a back and forth the way we are now.”
Nonetheless, Price said the US is “encouraged by the fact that Iran appears to have dropped some of its non-starter demands,” including de-listing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization, but “there are still some outstanding issues that must be resolved, some gaps that must be bridged.”