Iran: Russia’s demand for US guarantees incites nuclear talk
VIENNA, March 5 (Reuters) – Russia’s demand for written U.S. guarantees that sanctions on Moscow would not harm Russian cooperation with Iran is “not constructive” for talks between Tehran and global powers to revive a 2015 nuclear deal, a senior Iranian official said on Saturday.
The announcement by Russia, which could torpedo months of indirect talks between Tehran and Washington in Vienna, came shortly after Tehran said it had agreed a roadmap with the U.N. nuclear watchdog to resolve outstanding issues that could help secure the nuclear pact.
“Russians had put this demand on the table (at the Vienna talks) since two days ago. There is an understanding that by changing its position in Vienna talks Russia wants to secure its interests in other places. This move is not constructive for Vienna nuclear talks,” said the Iranian official in Tehran, speaking to Reuters.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday that the Western sanctions imposed over the war in Ukraine had become a stumbling block for the Iran nuclear deal, warning Russian national interests would have to be taken into account. read more
Lavrov said Russia wanted a written guarantee from the United States that Russia’s trade, investment and military-technical cooperation with Iran would not be hindered in any way by the sanctions.
“The new Russia-related sanctions are unrelated to the JCPOA and should not have any impact on its potential implementation,” a State Department spokesperson said, referring to the 2015 deal by its formal name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
“We continue to engage with Russia on a return to full implementation of the JCPOA. Russia shares a common interest in ensuring Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon. ”
When asked whether Russia’s demand would harm 11 months of talks between Tehran and world powers, including Russia, Iran Project Director at the International Crisis Group, Ali Vaez, said: “Not yet. But it’s impossible to segregate the two crises for much longer.”
Such demands may complicate efforts to seal a nuclear deal at a time when an agreement looked likely. All parties involved in the Vienna talks had said on Friday they were close to reaching an agreement.
The 2015 agreement between Tehran and major powers eased sanctions on Tehran in return for limiting Iran’s enrichment of uranium, making it harder for Tehran to develop material for nuclear weapons. The accord fell apart after President Donald Trump withdrew the United States in 2018.
TIMETABLE FOR ANSWERS
Meanwhile, Iran and the U.N. nuclear watchdog said they aimed to resolve a standoff over the origin of uranium particles found at old but undeclared sites by early June, aiming to remove an obstacle to reviving the 2015 deal.
The move was announced jointly by Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) during a visit to Tehran by IAEA chief Rafael Grossi, who had arrived on Friday to discuss one of the last thorny issues blocking the relaunching of the pact.
A major sticking point in the talks is that Tehran wants the question of the uranium particles to be closed. Western powers say that is a separate matter to the deal, which the IAEA is not a party to, several officials have told Reuters.
Since 2019, Tehran has breached the deal’s nuclear limits and gone well beyond, rebuilding stockpiles of enriched uranium, refining it to higher fissile purity and installing advanced centrifuges to speed up output. Iran denies it has ever sought to acquire nuclear weapons.