Iran will respond officially to the European Union's proposal to reviving the 2015 nuclear accord by the end of Monday, signaling it may be close to a deal with the US that could restore Iranian oil exports to global markets.
Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said that if the US shows a realistic approach and flexibility, we can reach an agreement in the next few days.
Oil extended losses as traders weighed the possibility of more Iranian supply and concerns about Chinese demand. West Texas Intermediate dropped near $87 a barrel, falling as much as 5.7%.
If our latest points are met, we have told the US we are ready to enter the phase of announcing the deal, and have a meeting of foreign ministers in Vienna on final conclusions, if our latest points are met, Amirabdollahian told reporters in a briefing in Tehran.
Neither the EU nor the US have responded to the minister's comments, as they are the main coordinator and mediator in the nuclear negotiations. The final draft text was proposed by the bloc last week, which it said represents the last remaining hope of rescuing the deal.
Additional oil from Tehran may be a welcome relief for consumers who have been hit by record fuel prices this summer as global output struggles to keep pace with the post-pandemic rebound in demand. Crude supplies have been under pressure due to international sanctions from Russia and the shift from expensive natural gas to oil in power generation.
In 2018 the Trump administration reimposed sanctions on Iran's economy, including its oil sales, which caused tensions across the Persian Gulf. Tehran increased its uranium enrichment to near levels that are required for a weapons program.
Amirabdollahian hinted that his country was willing to make concessions. Iran was ready to lose some things on the nuclear side to gain some things, he said. That comment could suggest a softerening of earlier positions related to international nuclear inspections that had deadlocked the latest round of talks.
In an editorial from Iran's leading hardline newspaper Kayhan, which is widely seen as a reflection of the positions of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said that murmurs of an agreement can be heard from all corners. Other news outlets in Iran interpreted that as a sign that a deal has the top cleric's approval.
Negotiations with world powers have dragged on for almost 18 months, dogged by political disputes over terrorism sanctions, Iranian demands for guarantees the US won't renegotiate the deal, Russia's war on Ukraine and inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Even though there were signs of progress toward a diplomatic deal, events elsewhere have underlined the enmity between Iran and the US.
In the past five days the US charged an Iranian national with planning to kill former presidential aide John Bolton in retaliation for Washington's deadly drone attack on a top Iranian general in January 2020, while the US officials have condemned Iranian hardliners for celebrating last Friday's violent knife attack on writer Salman Rushdie.