John Kirby
John KirbyREUTERS/Jim Bourg

White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said on Sunday that an agreement on a return to the Iran nuclear deal is closer, but there are still some issues to be ironed out.

"We are certainly closer today than we were about two weeks ago thanks to Iran being willing to concede on a couple of major issues," Kirby told CNN in an interview, before adding, "There are still gaps that remain between all sides."

“We’re hoping for a positive outcome because no problem in the Middle East is easy to solve with a nuclear-armed Iran,” he continued, stressing that President Joe Biden “still believes that diplomacy and a return to the nuclear deal are the best possible outcome, and we’re going to keep working on that.”

Iran recently sent its proposals over the final draft sent on August 8 by the EU, which has coordinated talks in Vienna on reviving the pact.

The proposal, submitted on July 26 by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, has been described by the EU as a “final draft” of the agreement.

Last Wednesday, Iran confirmed it had received a response from the United States to its proposals on the EU draft, saying it is “carefully reviewing the US opinions”.

US State Department spokesperson Ned Price had earlier 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.