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Russian Demands For Ukraine Sanctions Endangers Iran Nuclear Deal

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ByOnZine Articles

Mar 9, 2022
Russian Demands For Ukraine Sanctions Endangers Iran Nuclear Deal

Russia’s new demands threatened to derail talks to resurrect the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, as Moscow stated that it wants to write guarantees that Ukraine-related sanctions will not prevent it from trading broadly with Tehran under a resurrected pact.

The demands, made by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Saturday and dismissed by US officials on Sunday, came as Western and Iranian officials said they were close to reaching an agreement to re-establish the nuclear pact, which lifted most international sanctions against Iran in exchange for tight but temporary restrictions on Tehran’s nuclear programs.

The United States withdrew from the agreement in May 2018, and Iran has significantly expanded its nuclear work since mid-2019. The Vienna talks are centered on the precise steps that Tehran and Washington would need to take to re-enter the deal.

Western officials stated that they hoped to reach an agreement on the nuclear issue this week. Chief negotiators from European powers left Vienna on Friday to return to their respective capitals, as they awaited Iran and the United States to try to resolve their final differences.

These details included which sanctions Washington would lift and the precise sequence of steps the US and Iran would take to return to compliance with the 2015 agreement.

Iran had now produced 33.2 kilograms of highly enriched uranium, roughly three-quarters of what would be required to have enough weapon-grade 90% fuel for a nuclear weapon. According to experts, Iran would only need a few weeks to amass enough weapons-grade nuclear fuel.

Western officials have always understood that Russia’s specific role in the 2015 nuclear deal would need to be shielded from sanctions. This includes receiving enriched uranium from Iran and exchanging it for yellowcake, as well as Russia’s efforts to convert Iran’s Fordow nuclear facility into a research center and other nuclear-related deliveries to Tehran’s facilities.

Mr. Lavrov, on the other hand, appeared to demand far more broad guarantees, which could introduce major loopholes in the tight financial, economic, and energy sanctions imposed by the West in recent days in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

soon after Mr. Lavrov’s remarks, Russia’s chief nuclear negotiator, Mikhail Ulyanov, tweeted that he had raised questions with a senior European official “to ensure smooth civil nuclear cooperation with Iran.” This indicated that Russia’s true demands at the talks were narrower than Mr. Lavrov had suggested.

Mr. Blinken told CBS that Western sanctions against Russia have “absolutely nothing to do with…the Iranian nuclear deal.”

“These things are completely different and have nothing to do with each other, so I think that’s- that’s irrelevant,” he said on Sunday.

This weekend, the Iranian delegation in Vienna stated that they were awaiting clarification from Moscow.

According to a Western diplomat, if the guarantees are solely about the work Russia would do in Iran under a renegotiated nuclear deal, “that can be managed.”

“However, if Lavrov is using this as a ploy to try to carve a huge hole in the overall Ukraine sanctions, that’s another story,” the person said.

According to an Iranian official, his delegation is awaiting clarification from Moscow.

According to a joint statement, if Iran cooperates, the IAEA hopes to present its findings to its Board of Governors in June. However, when he returned to Vienna on Saturday evening, Mr. Grossi stated that a report could leave questions unanswered, which the agency would need to pursue further.

“You may conclude that what you have is insufficient and that more is required,” he told reporters.

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OnZine Articles main author - Max Haydon

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