The EU’s foreign policy head said on Friday that ongoing discussions regarding Iran’s shattered nuclear deal with world powers required “a break,” blaming “external causes” for the delay.
Josep Borrell’s remarks come as a path for the United States to rejoin an agreement it unilaterally withdrew from in 2018 and for Iran to rein down its fast expanding nuclear program looked to be on the horizon. While Borrell did not clarify, the news comes after Russia this week linked the current talks to the sanctions it is facing as a result of its war in Ukraine.
“Due to external causes, a halt in (hashtag)ViennaTalks is required.” On Twitter, Borrell remarked, “A final text is virtually ready and on the table.” “As coordinator, I will continue to communicate with all (hashtag)JCPOA participants and the United States with my team in order to resolve the current problem and finalize the agreement.”
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, is the official name of the 2015 nuclear deal. For months, talks have been taking place in Vienna to attempt to find a mechanism to resume the pact.
In response to Borrell, Saeed Khatibzadeh of the Iranian Foreign Ministry stated the halt “may be a momentum for resolving any outstanding issue and a complete return.”
“The major focus of everyone will be the successful conclusion of discussions,” Khatibzadeh stated on Twitter. “No external element will have an impact on our shared desire to reach a collective bargaining agreement.”
Khatibzadeh, too, failed to see the “external” problem. Iran, on the other hand, has been careful not to irritate Russia, which it sees as an ally in its fight against the US, in the last days of the talks.
In Syria, Iran teamed up with Russia to back President Bashar Assad. However, historical mistrust between the two countries lingers due to Russia’s invasion of Iran during World War II and subsequent refusal to depart.
The stoppage was also attributed to Russia’s demands, according to a report by Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency, which cited an unidentified source close to Tehran’s negotiators.
“There are some concerns, like as those between Russia and the United States, that will, of course, be unconnected to the Iranian discussions… and that needs to be settled between the US and Russia,” the person said, according to IRNA.
“I’m not aware of any impasse,” Russian Ambassador to Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov told media outside the Vienna hotel where the discussions were taking place.
He stated, “Contacts will continue.” “The deal’s completion is not only dependent on Russia.”
In Germany, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Andrea Sasse stated that “the work is done” on a deal, but that final decisions would have to be taken in foreign capitals.
“We hope and expect this to happen today,” Sasse stated.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Thursday that America was “near to a possible solution — it’s actually down to a very small number of unresolved concerns.”
However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated last week that he wants “guarantees at least at the level of the secretary of state” that the US sanctions will have no impact on Moscow’s relations with Tehran. This cast doubt on months of talks aimed at repairing the 2015 nuclear agreement, which saw Iran agree to substantially reduce its uranium enrichment in exchange for the relief of economic sanctions.
“The new Russia-related penalties have nothing to do with the JCPOA and should have no bearing on a hypothetical mutual return to compliance with it or its final implementation,” Price said on Thursday.
“We also have no intention of providing Russia anything new or particular in terms of (Ukraine) sanctions, nor is anything new necessary to secure a successful agreement on a mutual return to full compliance with the” pact.
Iran agreed to store advanced centrifuges under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency in 2015, while maintaining its uranium enrichment at 3.67 percent purity and a stockpile of only 300 kilograms (661 pounds). It also ceased enrichment at its Fordo nuclear site, which is located underground.
However, in 2018, then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from the agreement, following through on a campaign promise to rip it up since it didn’t address Iran’s ballistic missile development or backing for regional militias. As a series of increasing strikes put the greater Mideast on edge in 2019, Iran began deliberately breaching all of the deal’s constraints.
Iran’s stockpile of all enriched uranium was approximately 3,200 kilos as of February 19, according to the IAEA (7,055 pounds). Some has been enriched to 60% purity, which is just a technical step away from weapons-grade levels of 90%. Meanwhile, Iran has barred the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) from viewing its surveillance camera video and resumed enrichment at Fordo.
Experts in nuclear nonproliferation were concerned about this. While Iran claims its nuclear program is peaceful, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Western countries claim Iran had a well-organized military nuclear program until the end of 2003.
Trump departed office without ever engaging in substantive nuclear-deal discussions with Iran. Last year, when President Joe Biden took office, he stated that he wanted America to rejoin the pact.
Iran’s ability to export crude oil and natural gas on the international market might help lower energy prices. Because of Russia’s conflict in Ukraine, Americans are now paying the highest gasoline prices in history at the pump.