Unconfirmed parts of the US response to Iran in the nuclear talks have been leaked in Tehran, showing Washington’s rejection of three key Iranian demands.
The conservative government-controlled Jomhuriyeh Eslami (Islamic Republic) newspaper on Sunday published parts of the US response to Iran’s demands that were sent through the European Union mediators. The newspaper said that the text was published on “media”, which means it might have been leaked on social media, and there is no certainty if indeed it reflects the contents of the secret US response.
According to Jomhuriyeh Eslami, the US appears to have rejected three demands deemed important by Iran.
The newspaper adds that if indeed the leaked text reflects the American response, then 16 months of nuclear talks have again hit a snag and there won’t be a signing ceremony soon.
One Iranian demand related to guarantees it has been seeking was accepted, and that is submitting the new deal to the US Congress for approval. But this vague alleged promise by the Biden Administration does not say if the agreement will be submitted to the Senate or to both houses of Congress. It also does not say in what legal format the issue will be put to vote.
If it is true that there will be a vote in Congress, what if the agreement fails to pass in the Senate where Republicans can garner a majority on this issue. Even if the agreement is presented for a non-binding vote and it fails, the purpose of giving a guarantee to Iran will be defeated.
The Biden Administration has rejected an Iranian demand for the US to guarantee that Western companies will do business with Iran. The alleged American response has said that the US will permit all companies, except those under sanctions, to deal with Iran, but it cannot force private companies to interact with the Islamic Republic.
Iranian negotiators are well aware that a Western government cannot force private firms to do business with a country if they do not want to, and one can assume that this demand is probably made to be rejected, so Tehran can ask for something else.
The second Iranian demand rejected by the Biden Administration is about the US issuing insurance for multinational companies that would do business with Iran after the agreement. Iran demanded that if the United States withdraws form the nuclear deal again, these corporations be compensated. Washington has responded that this is beyond the powers of the President, and Biden can only give his official assurances as long as he remains the President and not beyond it.
The third Iranian demand allegedly rejected is related to SWIFT, the international banking transfers system. Iran has lost the privilege of using the mechanism since 2018 when the US withdrew from the JCPOA and imposed sanctions. This makes trade and investments extremely difficult.
The US in its response has said that Washington cannot guarantee Iran’s return to the SWIFT, because it has not accepted financial reforms demanded by the Financial Actions Task Force (FATF), an international watchdog based in Paris that requires financial transparency from countries, anti-corruption measures and laws to prohibit financing of terrorism.
Iran has dragged its feet since 2017 to approve the measures demanded by the FATF and is blacklisted along with North Korea.
The revelations that the US has rejected three Iranian demands has cast a shadow over hopes in Tehran of a quick agreement. The Iranian currency that had initially risen 15 percent against the US dollar has again retreated.