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Iran Nuclear Talks Enter Critical Stage As Negotiators Look To “Finish The Job”

  • With oil prices soaring after Russia invaded Ukraine, a nuclear deal with Iran is one of the few potentially bearish catalysts in today’s oil market.
  • Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator has called on Western partners to make certain decisions that would help to finish the job.
  • There has been noise from both camps that would suggest progress is being made, but Iran’s calls that the west can be “realistic” suggests there are still a few key issues to be resolved.

Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator has called on Western partners in the nuclear talks in Vienna to "take certain decisions" to seal a deal on reviving a landmark 2015 nuclear agreement. "Being near the finish line is no guarantee to crossing that. It requires extra caution, much perseverance, additional creativity and balanced approach to take the last step," Ali Bagheri Kani said on Twitter on February 24.

Negotiations to revive the pact, under which Tehran agreed to curb sensitive nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief, began more than 10 months ago in Vienna.

Then-U.S. President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the deal in 2018 and reimposed stringent sanctions that have battered Iran's economy and its currency. After Washington withdrew, Iran began violating some of the pact’s nuclear limits.

Iran's Foreign Ministry said on February 21 that the talks had made "significant progress," although there were still unresolved issues.

“To finish the job, there are certain decisions that our Western interlocutors need to take,” Bagheri Kani added after flying back to Tehran for consultations on the talks, which Iranian officials and Western diplomats say have reached a crucial stage.

As Bagheri Kani left Vienna, Iranian media reported that Behruz Kamalvandi, deputy head and spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, arrived in the Austrian capital for "technical consultations" with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry announced on February 23 that Bagheri Kani was returning to Tehran for "a short trip," and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told a news conference in Tehran that the talks were at a sensitive stage.

"We wonder whether the Western side can adopt a realistic approach to go through the remaining points of the talks," Amir-Abdollahian said, speaking alongside his Omani counterpart, who arrived earlier in Tehran for a visit.

Related: U.S. Sanctions Nord Stream 2 As Biden Pledges To “Hold Russia Responsible”

Amir-Abdollahian said he was "optimistic" about a deal while insisting without elaboration that Iran would not give up its "red lines."

Omani Foreign Minister Sayyid Badr Albusaidi’s visit to Tehran raised the potential that Oman could operate as an intermediary in the ongoing nuclear talks. Oman has often acted as a go-between to help facilitate diplomacy between the United States and Iran.

Amir-Abdollahian said last week that Tehran was ready to swap prisoners with the United States but said it would be “a humanitarian issue” unrelated to the nuclear accord.

Diplomats from parties involved in the negotiations have recently said the talks had reached a crucial stage. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told the parliament on February 16 they were at a “tipping point.”

The talks involve negotiators from Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia. The United States is taking part indirectly because Iran refused to meet face-to-face with the American delegation.

By RFE/RL

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Leave a comment
  • Mamdouh Salameh on February 24 2022 said:
    Talk about an impending agreement on a new Iran nuclear deal is no more than a ploy to depress current rising crude oil prices.

    A lifting of US sanctions against Iran will never see the light of day soon or ever. The reason is that the position of Iran and the United States are irreconcilable.

    The only deal acceptable to Iran is one on its own terms meaning a lifting of all US sanctions first and no new limitations on its nuclear and ballistic missile development programmes. This is something the United States egged by Israel can’t accept.

    Iran’s negotiators are among the best in the world. They wear down their counterparts until they get a deal on their own terms. They are also aware that the United States is in a hurry to reach a deal so it can focus all its energies on China and the evolving Ukraine crisis. So they intentionally drag their feet to extract the maximum concessions from their opponents.

    If in the very unthinkable event a deal has been reached, the maximum additional oil Iran could bring to the global oil market won’t exceed 650,000 barrels a day (b/d) being the difference between Iran’s pre-sanctions and post-sanctions crude oil exports. This is a mere drop in the ocean in the current very bullish oil market.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London

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