A week of resumed talks between Iranian and western diplomats about Iran’s nuclear program and the potential for lifting most international sanctions on the Islamic Republic, including on its oil exports, ends on Friday with little progress, with both the U.S. and Iran pessimistic about a successful outcome soon.
The indirect talks between the United States and Iran—via the other parties to the so-called Iranian nuclear deal, which former U.S. President Donald Trump ditched in 2018—restarted on Monday following several months of hiatus until Iran elects a new president and new administration.
A successful outcome of the talks would bring the U.S. and Iran back to the deal and lead to the removal of the U.S. sanctions on Iran’s oil industry and exports. Now it looks like a possible successful outcome is months away, and a legitimate return of Iranian barrels to the oil market, further still.
Iran is signaling it would not curb its nuclear program until all sanctions are lifted, while the U.S. and western powers want the reduction of uranium enrichment activities to happen before the potential removal of any sanctions.
Iran has stuck to its demands in this week’s talks, The Wall Street Journal reported, quoting Western and Iranian officials.
“What Iran can’t do is sustain the status quo of building their nuclear program while dragging their feet on talks. That will not happen. That’s also not our view alone. It’s very clearly the view of our European partners,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday.
“I have to tell you, recent moves, recent rhetoric don’t give us a lot of cause for optimism,” Secretary Blinken added.
Iran also signaled it is “not optimistic” about the way the talks resumed.
“We went to Vienna with serious determination, but we are not optimistic about the will and the intention of the United Staets and the three European parties to the deal,” Iranian media quoted Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian as saying in a conversation with his Japanese counterpart.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Iran insists on a lifting of US sanctions first before it agrees to curb its nuclear programme. This is something the United States and its allies will never accept and therein lies the problem.
Iran’s stubborn position is underpinned by the fact that it has so far managed to mitigate the adverse impact of the sanctions and has been managing to export an estimated 1.5 million barrels a day (mbd) two-thirds of which go to China.
Iran could, therefore, afford to take a hard line position vis-à-vis the nuclear negotiations waiting for the United States to blink first.
Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
International Oil Economist
Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London