May 18, 2022

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Russian demands have clouded the Iran nuclear talks

Russian demands have clouded the Iran nuclear talks

A gas torch on an oil production platform at Soroush oilfields is seen alongside an Iranian flag in the Gulf on July 25, 2005. REUTERS/Raheb Humafandi/File Photo

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VIENNA (Reuters) – Talks to revive Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers sank on Sunday after Russia demands a guarantee from the United States that sanctions it faces over the conflict in Ukraine will not harm its trade with Tehran.

Moscow threw the potential switch into the works on Saturday, as indirect talks between Tehran and Washington in Vienna appeared to be heading toward an agreement, with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov saying Western sanctions on Ukraine had become a stumbling block to nuclear power. Deal.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken sought to dispel talk of such obstacles on Sunday when he said sanctions against Russia over Ukraine had nothing to do with a potential nuclear deal with Iran. Read more

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“These things are completely different, and they’re not related in any way. So I think that’s irrelevant,” Blinkin said in an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” He added that a potential deal with Iran was imminent, but cautioned against solving two very difficult remaining problems.

However, a senior Iranian official told Reuters earlier that Tehran was waiting for clarification from Moscow over the comments of Lavrov, who said Russia wanted a US written guarantee that Russia’s trade, investment and military-technical cooperation with Iran would not impede it in any way. Penalties.

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Referring to the 2015 nuclear agreement, the JCPOA said: “It is necessary to clearly understand what Moscow wants. If what they are demanding is related to the JCPOA, it will not be difficult to find a solution to it.” from work.

“But it will be complicated if the guarantees demanded by Moscow go beyond the JCPOA,” he added.

British, French and German diplomats, who returned home before Lavrov’s remarks to brief officials on the nuclear talks, did not indicate when they would return to Vienna.

Reviving the nuclear deal without Russia has been “difficult but likely to be possible, at least in the short term,” said Henry Roma, Iran analyst at Eurasia Consulting Group.

“If Russia continues to block the talks, I think the other parties and Iran will have no choice but to think creatively about ways to achieve the agreement without Moscow’s interference,” Rome told Reuters.

On Sunday, Iranian negotiators met with European Union diplomat Enrique Mora, who is coordinating talks between Tehran and world powers.

Prisoner’s dilemma

Since the election of Iran’s hardline President Ebrahim Raisi last year, senior officials have been pushing for closer ties with Russia.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has both publicly and privately called for closer ties with Russia due to his deep mistrust of the United States.

The 2015 deal between Iran, the United States, France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China eased sanctions on Tehran in exchange for curbs on Iran’s enrichment of uranium, making it more difficult for Tehran to develop materials for nuclear weapons. The agreement collapsed after President Donald Trump withdrew the United States in 2018.

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The return of Iranian oil will help compensate for lost Russian barrels as the United States and its allies seek to freeze Moscow, in the wake of the invasion and mitigate the impact on a West already suffering from high inflation.

US negotiator Robert Malley has suggested that securing the nuclear deal is unlikely unless Tehran frees four US citizens, including the Iranian-American father and son Bakir and Siamak Namazi.

A senior Iranian official in Tehran said that if Tehran’s demands are met, the issue of prisoners could be resolved with or without the revival of the nuclear deal.

Iran, which does not recognize dual citizenship, denies US accusations that it is taking prisoners to gain diplomatic influence. In recent years, the Revolutionary Guards have arrested dozens of dual nationals and foreigners, mostly on espionage and security charges.

Tehran has sought the release of more than a dozen Iranians in the United States, including seven Iranian-Americans with dual citizenship, two Iranians with permanent residence in the United States, and four Iranian citizens who do not have legal status in the United States.

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Additional reporting by Humira Pamuk in Washington. Writing by Michael Georgi and Parisa Hafezi; Edited by Praveen Shar

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