“If the US shows a realistic approach and flexibility, we can reach the point of an agreement in the next few days,” Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said. Image Credit: AP file

Tehran: Iran said it will respond officially to the European Union’s proposal for reviving the 2015 nuclear accord by the end of Monday, signalling it may be nearer a deal with the US that could restore Iranian oil exports to global markets.

“If the US shows a realistic approach and flexibility, we can reach the point of an agreement in the next few days,” Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian added.

Oil extended losses as traders weighed the prospect of more Iranian supply and concerns about Chinese demand. West Texas Intermediate dropped near $87 a barrel, falling as much as 5.7%.

“We’ve clearly told the US we’re 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,” Amir Abdollahian told reporters in a briefing in Tehran.

But he added: “If the US response is to repeat their domestic miseries and try to gain concessions, we’ll have to talk and negotiate more.”

Neither the US nor the EU, which is the main coordinator and mediator in the nuclear negotiations, have so far responded to the minister’s comments. Last week, the bloc proposed a “finalised” draft text which it said represents the last remaining hope of rescuing the deal.

Additional oil from Tehran may come as a welcome relief for consumers, who’ve 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 come under extra strain as companies switch from expensive natural gas to oil in power generation, and as international sanctions disrupt flows from Russia.

The Trump administration abandoned the nuclear pact in 2018 and gradually reimposed sanctions on Iran’s economy, including its oil sales, fueling tensions across the Arabian Gulf. Tehran responded by stepping up its uranium enrichment to near levels that are required for a weapons programme.

Amirabdollahian hinted 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 softening of earlier positions related to international nuclear inspections that had deadlocked the latest round of talks.

Iran’s leading hardline newspaper Kayhan, which is broadly seen reflecting the positions of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said in an editorial 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 at various stages by political squabbles over terrorism sanctions, Iranian demands for guarantees the US won’t again renege on the deal, Russia’s war on Ukraine and inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Even as 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 US officials have condemned Iranian hardliners for celebrating last Friday’s violent knife attack on writer Salman Rushdie.