High hopes had been placed on the indirect talks set to be held in Qatar starting Tuesday between Iran and the United States, which involved the European Union mediating between the two; however after the second day the Iranian side is reporting that talks have already ended without an agreement or any breakthrough.
"Indirect talks between the United States and Iran to revive a 2015 nuclear agreement have ended in Qatar without a result, Iran's semi-official Tasnim news agency reported on Wednesday," Reuters reports.
Underscoring the importance of the Qatar-hosted talks as a restored nuclear deal still hangs from a thread, and is looking more unlikely than ever at this point, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell traveled to Doha to help mediate, after days prior meeting with Iranian officials in Tehran.
Most crucially from the viewpoint of the West, lack of progress in these last ditch efforts further means there's no full-scale return of Iranian oil to international markets on the horizon...
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Crude prices rose steadily throughout the morning, after edging higher since the start of the week and the G7 summit's pledge of 'tougher' action against Russia and Vladimir Putin, also as they continue mulling plans for imposing a price cap on Russian energy as part of exploring ways to ensure the Kremlin's war machine doesn't benefit from soaring energy prices.
The Biden administration has been scrambling to tap heretofore inaccessible supplies of crude, including from Venezuela, also as the Saudis appear cool on Washington efforts to get them to pump more. Al Jazeera reviews of where things stand in the indefinitely stalled efforts at a restored JCPOA, which earlier centered on the Vienna process:
- After several rounds of talks interspersed with pauses, negotiators seemed to be on the verge of an agreement in March, but it never came about.
- Since then, Iran and the US have been exchanging messages, but have failed to clinch an agreement.
- How far the US will go in lifting the sanctions has been the major point of disagreement between the two – the status of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is a major stumbling block, with the US unwilling to remove the military branch from its foreign terrorist organisation list.
Meanwhile, the Iranians have remained insistent that it is only the US side holding things up, and that essentially the ball is still in Washington's court, and it is for the Biden administration to act, perhaps also with an understanding that Russia-Ukraine events add pressure to the White House stance vis-a-vis Iran.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said Tueday: "I believe that if the American side is in possession of serious resolve and acts realistically, an agreement is within reach at this stage and at this round of the negotiations." He added: "We are serious and would, under no circumstances, cross our redlines," which have been drawn in line with the objective of "meeting the country’s national interests to the maximum," state media quoted him as saying. "The agenda is clear."
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Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
International Oil Economist
Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London