Iranian and European diplomats meet in Vienna on December 30, 2021

Iranian and European diplomats meet in Vienna on December 30, 2021

EU, Iran Call For Pause In Nuclear Talks As 'External Factor' Weighs In

3/11/2022

EU Foreign Policy chief Josep Borrell Friday called for a pause in Iran nuclear talks, saying that a draft text is "essentially ready", but hampered by "external factors".

Apparently referring to Moscow's demands to be exempted from sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine in its dealing with Iran, in a tweet Friday morning Borrell said a pause in Vienna talks is needed due to "external factors". He added that a "final text" to revive the deal, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is "essentially ready and on the table."

"As coordinator, I will, with my team, continue to be in touch with all JCPOA participants and the US to overcome the current situation and to close the agreement," Borrell said.

Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh shortly after Borrell's statement nodded agreement, tweeting that a pause in the negotiations "could be a momentum for resolving any remaining issue and a final return."

On Thursday the Politico said two diplomats have said that the talks in Vienna were on the precipice of collapse over last-minute Russian demands for exemption from sanctions.

Iran's official news agency IRNA Friday morning said "informed sources" have not confirmed the collapse of the Vienna talks, without mentioning the politico report. It also made no mention of Russian demands, blaming the US for delaying an agreement.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian also told Borrell in a phone call Thursday evening that the US is sending "mixed messages" to Iran and delaying the restoration of the JCPOA by introducing "new and unjustified but again did not make any mention of Moscow's demands.

He also insisted that Iran's demand for the lifting of sanctions on "[Iran's] national heroes", presumably the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), was "non-negotiable". The former US administration designated the IRGC as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO).

"No single party can determine end result; a joint endeavor is needed. Reason should prevail," the Iranian foreign minister tweeted after his phone call with Borrell, reiterating that a "good and durable agreement" was within reach if "the US acts realistically and consistently."

On Friday morning former Central Bank of Iran Governor Abdolnaser Hemmati in a tweet urged all Iranian official to support a quick deal with the US directly. "A hundred days ago I told [them] not to miss the opportunity for economic growth by 'negotiating with five different mediums [each with its own] interests'," he wrote, adding: "With the current oil prices the cost of delay in increasing crude oil exports is $4b [a month]."

A restored JCPOA would theoretically bring back Iranian fossil fuel to world markets but the energy infrastructures, both gas and oil, have been left in relative neglect in the past few years, particularly after the 2018 sanctions and it will take time, even years in the case of gas, to boost production.

The US State Department Spokesman Ned Price told reporters Thursday that a nuclear deal with Iran is "down to a small number of outstanding issues" which are nevertheless "among the most difficult ones" and stressed that Washington has urged all parties, including Russia, to focus on solving the final remaining issues.

However, he stressed that the "new Russia-related sanctions are wholly unrelated to the JCPOA" and Washington has "no intention of offering Russia anything new or specific" as it relates to the sanctions imposed for the invasion of Ukraine. "I will let the Russian Federation speak to what it is that they are seeking," he said.

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