“We have taken the main big step, and the primary agreement has been reached,” Rouhani said on Thursday, while speaking at a ceremony to inaugurate a number of Oil Industry projects.
He said Iran’s negotiating team, headed by Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Abbas Araqchi, is still in talks over details of the final agreement “but the administration has done its job.”
“Three months ago, I was wondering whether we in this administration can do this, but we did break coronavirus and sanctions,” he added, praising the Iranian people for their patience in achieving the victory.
Iran and the remaining parties to the 2015 nuclear agreement, namely Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain, began efforts early last month to revive the deal that was nixed by former US President Donald Trump.
In quitting the deal, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Trump reimposed sanctions that had been lifted under the agreement and added new ones under his so-called maximum pressure campaign against the Islamic Republic.
The fourth round of negotiations in the Austrian capital wrapped up on Wednesday so that the delegations would return to their respective capitals for further consultations. The top diplomats are expected to begin the fifth round next week.
Prior to their departure, diplomats engaged in the talks noted the “good” progress that was made, saying an agreement is “within reach.”
The latest round of talks comes while a three-month monitoring deal Iran made with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) comes to an end on Friday.
Under the deal, Iran agreed to give diplomacy another chance by keeping the footage recorded at its nuclear sites for three months, after it restricted the IAEA’s access to the sites as part of its reciprocal measures against US sanctions.
Iran has already said the agreement can be extended beyond May 21.
IAEA: Talks on nuclear deal continue with Iran
The IAEA said on Thursday that it is still in talks with Iran on how to proceed with the deal, adding that it will provide an update within days.
“(IAEA) Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi and Vice-President of Iran and Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, on 21 February agreed on a temporary bilateral technical understanding (for up to 3 months) that remains in effect,” the UN watchdog said in a statement.
“The Agency and Iran are currently in consultations regarding the implementation of the existing understanding. The Director General will provide an update to the (IAEA) Board of Governors in the coming days,” it added.
Meanwhile, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the International Organizations in Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov voiced regret that the Vienna talks have not been completed before May 21, saying the talks will continue nevertheless until they reach a successful outcome.
“It is obvious now that the Vienna talks on #JCPOA will not be completed by May 21 as the participants hoped. Regrettable but not dramatic,” Ulyanov said via Twitter on Thursday.
“May 21 wasn’t a deadline but a target date. It helped us not to forget about time pressure. The talks will continue until successful outcome,” he added.