Iran’s top national security official Ali Shamkhani says that nuclear talks with world powers "get knottier by the hour", as Russia has introduced new demands.
Russia has demanded US guarantees that sanctions over Ukraine would not affect its trade and wider relations with Tehran, before it agrees with a nuclear deal negotiated in Vienna for over 11 months.
Iran has not opposed the last-minute Russian demands. Instead, both Moscow and Tehran blame the US for "lacking political resolve" to reach a deal to restore the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and the US does not appear to be willing to accept the Russian demands.
Moscow denies that it is holding the JCPOA hostage to its own interests as many in Iran claim and insists on having free trade with Iran despite sanctions imposed on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.
Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani in a tweet Thursday said the talks "get knottier by the hour" and accused the US of not being interested in a "strong deal" but made no reference to Moscow's new demands.
“US approach to Iran's principled demands, coupled with its unreasonable offers and unjustified pressure to hastily reach an agreement, show that US isn't interested in a strong deal that would satisfy both parties. Absent US political decision, the talks get knottier by the hour,” Shamkhani said in his tweet.
On Thursday Tasnim News Agency which is linked to the Revolutionary Guards quoted "an informed source" as saying that "at least 3 or 4 major and secondary issues" remain unresolved in the talks in Vienna that the Western side should address.
The source accused the US of "psychological and media operations" to project the blame on others instead of "real negotiation." This could refer to briefings from US and western European officials in response to Lavrov's demand.
According to the Wall Street Journal correspondent Laurence Norman Moscow officially presented its new demand in the form of an updated "non-paper" to the to the EU on Tuesday. The Russian envoy in the talks, Mikhail Ulyanov, has admitted that Moscow's demands, apparently outlined in the "non-paper", have not been received well by the other parties.
"There’s nothing that should be required of or will be offered from the United States as it relates to Russia sanctions — that is related to their invasion of Ukraine," White House Spokeswoman Jan Psaki on Wednesday evening when asked about reports that Russia is delaying the signing of the JCPOA for its own interests.
Ulyanov told reporters last week that the talks were approaching the finishing line and even suggested it could be signed as early as the past weekend or Monday this week, but on Wednesday he said that there was still "no final text" of an agreement so the Russian position could not be blamed for a delay in reaching an agreement over the restoration of the JCPOA.
"In view of the new circumstances and wave of sanctions against Russia we have the right to protect our interests in the nuclear field and wider context," Ulyanov said on Wednesday and explained that the United States and European Union must make it clear that sanctions must not affect the implementation of Moscow's nuclear projects in Iran or its trade and economic relations with Tehran neither at present nor in the future.
Two Western diplomats told Reuters on Wednesday that it was still not clear what the exact nature of Moscow's demands were, while a European diplomat said Russia was demanding sweeping guarantees on trade between Moscow and Tehran, demands that were deemed unacceptable.