Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani arrives at Palais Coburg where nuclear talks with Iran take place in Vienna, February 28, 2022.

Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani arrives at Palais Coburg where nuclear talks with Iran take place in Vienna, February 28, 2022.

France Says Iran Talks Must Conclude As Tehran Toughens Its Demands


It is urgent to conclude negotiations over reviving a 2015 nuclear deal between world powers and Iran this week, France's foreign ministry said on Monday.

"There is indeed critical urgency to conclude the negotiations this week," spokeswoman Anne-Claire Legendre told reporters in a daily briefing.

Iran International reported on Saturday that according to Western and Iranian sources the United States has given Iran "an immediate deadline" to respond to a final package of Western proposals on reviving the 2015 nuclear agreement known as JCPOA.

Iran's foreign ministry said on Monday that "97-98 percent" of a deaft agreement is ready but three key issues remain that the West has not agreed with.

Iran has been demanding the lifting of more US sanctions than Washington is willing to accept. It also demads a firm guarantee from Washington that a future US government will not renege on the deal. The Biden Administration has said that constitutionally it cannot provide such a guarantee on behalf of a future president, as the agreement in question is not a treaty to be ratified by the Senate.

Iran's lead nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani, who flew to Tehran last week for consultations about the final draft of the deal, will meet the European Union's Enrique Mora, who coordinates the talks in Vienna on Monday.

Reuters on Monday quoted two sources close to the talks in Vienna as saying that Iran had submitted new demands, while continuing to insist on existing ones, including the removal of a US foreign terrorist organisation (FTO) designation against Iran's Revolutionary Guards (IRGC).

"Iran's stance after Bagheri's trip to Tehran has become even more uncompromising .... they now insist on removal of sanctions on the IRGC and want to open issues that had already been agreed," one of the sources said.

The Guards is a powerful faction in Iran that controls a business empire as well as elite armed forces and intelligence services. Dozens of its commanders have high-ranking positions in hardline President Ebrahim Raisi's government.

The FTO designation of IRGC by Washington in 2019, which was the first time the United States had formally labelled part of another sovereign government as a terrorist group, has caused further problems for Iran's sanction-hit economy.

Tehran also insists the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) drop its case about Tehran’s nuclear work, objecting to an assertion by the UN nuclear watchdog last year that Tehran had failed to fully explain the presence of uranium traces found at several undeclared sites.

The sites in question are implicated in clandestine nuclear work two decades ago, abandoned when Tehran's nuclear activities came into public focus in 2002.

"We have answered the agency's questions. But instead of closing the politically-motivated case, they are using it to gain leverage in the talks," said an Iranian official in Tehran.

Observors are concerned that the Russian invasion of Ukraine can derail the Iran negotiations. Iran has sided with Russia and blamed the United States and NATO for the crisis. Russia has played a major role in the talks, often acting as mediator between Washington and Tehran.

With reporting by Reuters

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