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The Iran Nuclear Deal Just Hit Yet Another Roadblock

  • The revival of the landmark nuclear accord between Iran and world powers is “essentially ready” but external powers are still presenting some roadblocks.
  • Last week, Russia demanded that Western sanctions not impact relations between Tehran and Moscow, an idea that Western powers have rejected.
  • Talks to revive the deal have been held in fits and starts in Vienna since April, including representatives from China, France, Germany, Russia, Britain, the European Union, and Iran. 
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The European Union's foreign policy chief says the final text of an agreement to revive a landmark nuclear accord between Iran and world powers is "essentially ready and on the table," but a pause is needed in the talks due to "external factors."

Moscow demanded guarantees last week that Western sanctions related to its invasion of Ukraine would not hamper economic and military relations between Iran and Russia.

The United States and European countries have rejected the idea, saying they have nothing to do with restoring the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the 2015 nuclear deal is officially known.

"As coordinator, I will, with my team, continue to be in touch with all JCPOA participants and the U.S. to overcome the current situation and to close the agreement," Josep Borrell said on Twitter on March 11.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said on Twitter that Tehran agreed that a pause could result in "momentum for resolving any remaining issue and a final return."

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said on March 10 that there were a few issues still to be resolved -- an indication that the Russian position is not the only stumbling block that still needs to be cleared out of the way.

Former President Donald Trump in 2018 pulled the United States out of the agreement that lifted most sanctions on Iran in exchange for the Islamic republic's curbing its nuclear activities. The U.S. move reimposed tough economic sanctions on Tehran, which has been violating some provisions of the deal, saying it was no longer applicable.

Talks to revive the deal have been held in fits and starts in Vienna since April, including representatives from China, France, Germany, Russia, Britain, the European Union, and Iran. The EU has served as a chief interlocutor between the U.S. and Iranian delegations following Tehran's refusal to meet face-to-face with the Americans.

Russia's envoy to the talks, Mikhail Ulyanov, dismissed suggestions that Moscow was the reason the talks had stalled.

"The conclusion of the deal does not depend on Russia only," Ulyanov told reporters after meeting EU coordinator Enrique Mora.

"There are others actors who need additional time and who have additional concerns, and they are being discussed," he added.

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on March 13 2022 said:
    The only deal Iran will accept is one on its own terms meaning a lifting of all US sanctions against it with no new limitations on its nuclear and ballistic missile development programmes. This is something the United States egged by Israel can’t accept.

    The positions of Iran and the United States are irreconcilable. That is why we may never see a new deal and a lifting of US sanctions soon or ever.

    Iranian negotiators sense that the United States is in a hurry to reach a deal so as to focus all its energies on China and the evolving Ukraine crisis. Therefore, they will drag their feet to extract major concessions from the United States.

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

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