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U.S. And Iran Make Progress On Nuclear Deal Talks

As the indirect talks between the United States and Iran are making some progress but not major breakthroughs, diplomatic shuttles of U.S. officials and senators in the Middle East in recent days have intensified reports that there could be a breakthrough soon.

A deal is in the works that will only collapse if Iran decides not to play ball, officials from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and from the U.S. say, The Dispatch reports.

The talks in Vienna resumed this week, while U.S. and Iranian officials are shuttling around the Middle East, The Hill reports, noting that this could signal a breakthrough in the negotiations for the U.S. and Iran to return to the so-called nuclear deal, or as it is officially known, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Currently, the U.S. sanctions imposed by the Trump Administration are preventing Iran from exporting all of its oil, as many buyers around the world don’t want to risk their U.S. assets by doing business with Iran. Despite the sanctions, Iran has been exporting part of its crude oil, and exports have been estimated at around 500,000 bpd recently. 

U.S. President Joe Biden has signaled a willingness to return to the nuclear deal, but only if Iran returns to full compliance in its nuclear activities.

During the weekend, Iranian diplomats said there was progress made in the ongoing talks in Vienna.

Iran will be able to raise its crude oil exports to 2.5 million barrels per day (bpd) after the U.S. sanctions on its oil industry are lifted, a top Iranian official said this weekend. 

But U.S. diplomats say, at least publicly, that there is no imminent breakthrough they can talk about.

The U.S. State Department said on Wednesday, “we welcome a mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA,” as the talks in Vienna resumed.

“Compliance for compliance. What we don’t yet know is whether Iran is prepared to make the same decision and move forward,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken told BBC’s Radio 4 Today program on Thursday, quoted by The National.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on May 06 2021 said:
    Don’t bank on it. We may never see a lifting of US sanctions on Iran even by 2023. The reason is that the positions of the United States and Iran are so far apart that it will be almost impossible to reconcile.

    Iran will neither negotiate with the United States before the sanctions are lifted first nor will it be ready to renegotiate the nuclear deal which will certainly try to impose limitations on its nuclear and ballistic missile development programmes. From the United States’ point of view, renegotiating the deal means Iran’s relinquishing its nuclear and ballistic missile development programmes which Iran will never do.

    Two major geopolitical factors don’t bode well for a successful outcome. The first is that Israel will do everything within its power to prevent a return of the United States to the nuclear deal even if precipitating a war between Iran and the United States or possibly even attacking Iran’s nuclear installations on its own.

    The second factor is that it is most probable that supporters of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) are going to win the Iranian elections. The IRGC and its allies will intensify their activities against Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Gulf either to derail any negotiations with the United States or to get a deal on their own terms.

    Moreover, American negotiators may have to contend with the possibility that with the success Iran has so far achieved in evading US sanctions, it may accept the continuation of sanctions as a small price to pay for ejecting US military presence from Iraq, Syria and eventually the whole Gulf region thus winning a spectacular geopolitical victory over the United States.

    The geopolitical balance in the Gulf region is already tilting towards Iran as judged by the continued attacks by the Houthis, Iran’s allies in Yemen, on Saudi oil infrastructure and installations, the reported harassing of US Navy ships by the IRGC Navy and also the reported talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran to de-escalate tension between them and reach some sort of a rapprochement.

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

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