Iran nuclear talks are about to collapse because of Russia’s demand – POLITICO

VIENNA – Iran nuclear talks are on the verge of collapsing because of Russia’s demand for last-minute sanctions, according to two diplomats.

Diplomats say negotiations have reached an impasse over Russia’s demands, prompting a resurgence of a landmark 2015 deal under which Iran curbed its nuclear ambitions. themselves in exchange for sanctions.

Russia is demanding any return to the deal that includes guarantees that any future Russian business with Iran will be exempt from EU and US sanctions – a late curve. membrane from Moscow in response to the crippling penalties the country is facing following its invasion of Ukraine.

But negotiators from the other world powers involved – including the US, UK, France, Germany and China, as well as senior EU diplomats – could not figure out how to meet the demands. demand, diplomats said. So, after an 11-month hiatus of talks in Vienna, the talks will likely pause to allow bilateral talks between Iran and Russia on the situation. Iran seems eager to close the deal, given the potential revenue it could gain from exporting its oil at skyrocketing prices and the need for sanctions relief.

The development is a remarkable turning point. As recently as last week, it was widely speculated that negotiators were about to announce a rollback of the 2015 agreement, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA),

A senior Western official familiar with the situation told POLITICO that Russia’s demands could not be met because the Vienna talks were about bringing Iran and the US back into compliance with the 2015 agreement. not about sanctions against Moscow.

Ali Vaez, an analyst with the International Crisis Group who has been involved on many fronts in the negotiations, confirmed that the situation is at a critical stage.

“Negotiations appear to have stalled, mainly because of Russia’s request,” he said.

State Department spokesman Ned Price on Thursday called on Russia to help get back to the deal with Iran, saying it was in Moscow’s interest. He emphasized that time is short and key issues remain unresolved.

“We have made it very clear… that the new sanctions related to Russia have absolutely nothing to do with the JCPOA,” Price said. “We also have no intention of providing Russia with anything new or specific as it relates to sanctions.”

On Tuesday, Russia’s chief negotiator, Mikhail Ulyanov, presented Moscow’s demands to Enrique Mora, the senior EU official coordinating and mediating the negotiations. The request went far beyond what many had hoped for a simple request for sanctions waivers to allow Russia to play its role in implementing a restored nuclear deal – which Negotiators say they were able to integrate into the draft agreement.

However, Ulyanov’s request coincides with what Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Saturday when he asked for “a written guarantee… that the current process initiated by the United States does not cause harm to our rights to free and full trade, economy and investment. military-technical cooperation and cooperation with the Islamic Republic. ”

The atmosphere at the talks has been extremely tense over the past few days, officials said, and the level of tension is “ruthless” – as a second official said – given that the most difficult points seem to as was resolved before the Russian invasion. Ukraine began to threaten the emerging breakthrough.

Moscow is concerned about the expected flow of Iranian oil into the market after the nuclear deal is restored, which will create competition for Russian oil and lower energy prices, potentially allowing the West imposes more sanctions on Russia for the attack on Ukraine.

Officials familiar with the negotiations said restoring the nuclear deal without Russia was theoretically possible. It essentially requires finding another country, such as China or maybe even Kazakhstan, to ship Iran’s excess enriched uranium, exchange it for natural uranium, and work with Iran to move the plant. their Fordow nucleus into a research facility.

Aside from the Russian hurdle, officials said the 20-page draft was primarily made with some minor editorial tweaks going on. People familiar with the discussions said there was even a compromise looming over Iran’s controversial request to bring in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a branch of Iran’s military, out. from the US terrorist list. It appears that some minor details are still being worked out on the matter, diplomats said.

Over the past few weeks, negotiators have been rushing to the finish line knowing that Russia’s war in Ukraine poses a threat to sensitive negotiations.

Months of negotiations are also beginning to wear off the diplomats, who have spent countless hours negotiating the small details of the draft document, including the high specifications of how to bring the nuclear program to life. Iran’s core back into the box and push back the US sanctions.

The cost of a complete failure of negotiations would be enormous, sowing new instability in the Middle East. Iran has been slowly building up its nuclear capabilities as the negotiations drag on. Recently, the International Atomic Energy Agency said that Tehran has doubled its stockpile of uranium enriched to 60%, close to weapons-grade. Iran nuclear talks are about to collapse because of Russia's demand - POLITICO

Fry Electronics Team

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