Ulyanov holding a meeting in Vienna with the Iranian delegation. February 13, 2022

Ulyanov holding a meeting in Vienna with the Iranian delegation. February 13, 2022

Russia’s Negotiator Blames West For Failure Of Iran Talks

Monday, 03/27/2023

Russian chief negotiator in Iran nuclear talks, Mikhail Ulyanov, says the “Western partners” still refrain from announcing the "death" of negotiations to revive the JCPOA. 

Ulyanov said on Monday that the talks to restore the nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic remains at an impasse, noting that chances of completing the negotiation process are very small.

The volte-face comes despite Ulyanov usual optimism, as the only voice who kept vouching for the success of Vienna talks with tweets about the prospect of restoring the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or the Iranian nuclear program.

“Formally, a draft package solution remains on the negotiating table, providing for a phased return of Iran to the fulfillment of its obligations under the JCPOA and the lifting of illegitimate US extraterritorial sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Ulyanov said. 

“This package is the result of intensive and lengthy negotiations in Vienna with the participation of Russia, Iran, China, the Eurotroika, the United States and the EU Foreign Service, which acted as a coordinator,” he added. 

Russian envoy at Iran nuclear talks, Mikhail Ulyanov

Russia was an active player in the talks from April 2021 to February 2022, when it invaded Ukraine. The negotiations in Vienna ended in early March. The chief US negotiator Robert Malley was often meeting with Ulyanov to discuss the talks. 

The last push by the EU to broker a deal in August 2022 reached a deadlock amid key disagreements between Tehran and Washington, as well as the Islamic Republic’s vague response to the IAEA about uranium traces at several sites.

Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman of Iran's atomic agency told a press conference on March 15 that “If there will be further questions, we will answer and talk to each other to determine how these issues can be followed up,” referring to issues related to the IAEA.

The IAEA discovered three undeclared locations in 2019 with traces of uranium. The locations dated back to before 2003 when Iran had a secret nuclear program. The UN nuclear watchdog has been demanding satisfactory answers about the three sites but it says that so far Tehran’s explanations have not been technically credible.

Tehran is now seeking to restore the nuclear agreement to see the sanctions lifted, but US officials have repeatedly said their focus is not on the revival of the JCPOA at the moment. Meanwhile, the IAEA confirmed earlier this year that its inspectors had found particles of enriched uranium with a purity of 83.7 percent at Fordow enrichment facility near Tehran.

However, following a visit to Tehran earlier this month, IAEA chief Rafael Grossi said Iran is ready to cooperate on the three locations and agreed to re-install additional monitoring equipment such as cameras at nuclear sites.

Grossi stressed that agreements still need to be discussed and he cannot yet guarantee the success of his negotiations with Tehran. After more than three weeks there have been no meetings to resolve issues, despite Grossi’s earlier promises in March that there would be “meetings soon.”

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