Iran is “going through the final stages” of work to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said in Zanzibar Friday.
There had been “a lot of progress in discussions and text editing” over some months, noted Amir-Abdollahian in remarks reported from his meeting with President Hossein Movini.
Tehran is currently reviewing a United States response submitted August 24, following Iran’s August 15 input, to a text circulated by the European Union August 8 in efforts to renew the 2015 agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Amir-Abdollahian reiterated Thursday in Tanzania that Iran was “very serious about the remaining issues of safeguards” as with a revived JCPOA “political and baseless accusations” could later be “stuck like a bone in a wound.”
The foreign minister was apparently referring to Iran’s hope that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) would drop an enquiry into Iran’s nuclear work before 2003. Tehran argues the IAEA completed these investigations in 2018, and revived them only after allegations made by Israel in 2018 to undermine the JCPOA.
The US, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom in June successfully moved a resolution at the IAEA Governing Board backing the agency in seeking further explanations from Iran over uranium traces found by inspectors apparently working on information provided by the Israelis. The US and three European states argue Iran, regardless of the JCPOA talks, should satisfy the agency as part of its ‘safeguards’ commitment under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty.
Jalal Rahimi Jahanabadi, a lawmaker who says the revival of the JCPOA is a done deal
Some JCPOA opponents in the US argue that the Biden administration, despite public assurances, has accepted Iran’s demand that the IAEA probe be shelved. Omri Ceren, an advisor to Republican senator Ted Cruz, tweeted Thursday that the US side had “collapsed” on the issue.
Another JCPOA critic, former ambassador to Israel David Freidman, tweeted that the US was “insane” and heading down a “rabbit hole” in not insisting on inspection of Iran’s military sites – which is not an IAEA responsibility.
But French President Emmanuel Macron, who in a meeting with IAEA chief Rafael Mariano Grossi Thursday stressed France’s commitment to the agency’s work, said Friday in Algeria that the “ball in is Iran’s court” over JCPOA revival.
In a further indication of Iran and the US inching closer after 16 months of talks to revive the JCPOA, which President Donald Trump abandoned 2018 in imposing ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions, Jalil Rahimi Jahanabadi, a member of the Iranian parliament, said Friday there was a high probability of agreement within ten days.
Assurances, bad faith and patience
Jahanabadi, who sits on the parliament’s national security committee, said Iran had been largely successful in obtaining guarantees – both over its nuclear program and sanctions – should the US again leave the JCPOA. Earlier in August, Jahanabadi had stressed the importance of such assurances.
Reporting of the negotiations has suggested Iran has looked to mothball, rather than destroy, more advanced centrifuges it could then quickly deploy after any US withdrawal. Tehran would also like assurances over a pause in the reimposition of US sanctions after any future withdrawal.
In several cases,” said Jahanabadi, “the parties still have minor differences of opinion, but for Iran, as a country that has witnessed the bad faith of the United States and its withdrawal from the JCPOA, it is very difficult to renew an agreement without any guarantees and a guarantee of firm implementation.”
Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s ambassador to the IAEA, tweeted Thursday an appeal for patience all round. “It may be regrettable but participants have the right to ask for changes to the text in accordance with normal practice of multilateral diplomacy,” he wrote.