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Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian will head to Moscow on March 15 for discussions on the Iran nuclear deal, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said.
The announcement comes days after France, Britain, and Germany warned of a risk that talks on an almost-completed revived nuclear deal could collapse over Russia’s demands to have its trade with Iran guaranteed amid massive sanctions on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.
Negotiations on renewing the landmark 2015 nuclear deal, which have been taking place in Vienna, stalled after Russia presented its new demands earlier this month. Until then the talks between Iran and major powers were close to renewing the agreement on regulating Iran's nuclear program.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told reporters on March 14 that Amir-Abdollahian will "go to Moscow on Tuesday."
He said negotiators were “not at a point of announcing an agreement now since there are some important open issues that need to be decided upon by Washington." He said as soon as those decisions are made, negotiators would “be able to return to Vienna and reach a final agreement."
Iran's top security official, Ali Shamkhani, said on Twitter on March 14 that Tehran will stay in the talks until a "strong agreement that meets all our legal and logical demands" is reached.
The negotiations were halted after Russia on March 5 demanded guarantees that Western sanctions imposed following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would not damage its trade with Iran.
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U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has dismissed Russia’s demands as "irrelevant" to the nuclear negotiations, which have been taking place between Iran and Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia, with the United States taking part indirectly.
The deal gave Iran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program, but Washington unilaterally withdrew from the accord in 2018 under then-President Donald Trump and imposed tough economic sanctions, including on oil exports.
Tensions in the region increased on March 13 when Iran attacked Iraq's northern city of Irbil with a dozen ballistic missiles in an assault on the capital of the autonomous Iraqi Kurdish region that appeared to target the United States and its allies.
Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) claimed responsibility for the rocket attack targeting the U.S. consulate's new building and a residential area. The attack caused only material damage and injured one civilian, the Kurdish Interior Ministry said on March 13.
The IRGC's statement claiming responsibility said it was against Israeli "strategic centers" in Irbil, Iran's state media reported.
A Kurdish spokesperson for the regional authorities said that the attack only targeted civilian residential areas, not sites belonging to foreign countries, and called on the international community to investigate.
Tehran had warned Iraqi authorities many times that its territory should not be used by third parties to conduct attacks against Iran, Khatibzadeh said on March 14.
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