Iran has at least one disagreement with the final text of a pared-down nuclear agreement, sending its official response to Vienna minutes after the EU-imposed deadline Monday.
The U.S. believed negotiations on a deal exchanging sanctions relief for temporary caps on Iran’s nuclear program had reached the limit of what could be decided, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a briefing Monday, the EU’s requested date for a response from both parties. However, Iran’s response to what the EU has called a final offer reportedly contains reservations about sanctions relief and guaranteed economic benefits, Politico reported.
Iran’s refusal to deliver a hard response is intended to keep “the Biden administration bending over backward trying to offer more and more concessions,” Richard Goldberg, Vandenberg Coalition Advisory Board member and former National Security Council adviser, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
The primary holdup to agreement on the nuclear deal is Iran’s requirement for permanent guarantees on economic compensation should a future U.S. president withdraw from the agreement, a U.S. diplomat told CNN. Former President Barack Obama signed the original Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2015, but former President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the agreement and reimposed severe sanctions on Iran.
No real solution has been put forth,” the diplomat told CNN.
However, Mohammad Marandi, an aide on Iran’s negotiating team, said that “the outstanding issues could be solved and a possible deal is even closer,” the state-aligned Islamic Republic News Agency reported Tuesday. In addition, an EU official told Politico the deal contained nothing “too inflammatory.”
“We have received Iran’s comments through the EU and are studying them. We are sharing our views with the EU,” a State Department spokesperson told the DCNF.
An Iranian source told the state-affiliated Iranian Students News Agency that Iran expects an answer from the U.S. by Wednesday.
The only way to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal is for Tehran to abandon its extraneous demands, the U.S. State Department said on Monday, saying Washington believes everything that can be negotiated already has been.#ViennaTalks #JCPOA #IranNuclearDealhttps://t.co/T9MA9NXvi2
— Kayhan Life (@KayhanLife) August 16, 2022
The inconclusive response from both the U.S. and Iran caps 16 months of sporadic negotiations, hampered by Iran’s unwillingness to communicate directly with the U.S. negotiating team and requirement that the U.S. remove its paramilitary fighting force, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), from the designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations list.
“It’s important to remember how bad the deal already is today,” Goldberg told the DCNF. As it stands, the deal could lift up to $1 trillion in sanctions that the Iranian regime could funnel to a terrorist organization that has organized assassination plots on top U.S. national security officials, Goldberg said.
Iran’s response does not include any pushback to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s ongoing, independent probe into Iran’s atomic weapons program, a senior Western official told Politico. Iran has previously insisted that the IAEA must drop the probe as a condition for accepting any renegotiated nuclear agreement.
The EU’s deal may include a requirement that Iran satisfactorily answer the IAEA’s queries and that partners in the deal to pressure the IAEA to discontinue its investigation into traces of nuclear material found at various Iranian sites since 2019.
“If Iran’s red lines were observed, Iran had no problem with a deal and that’s why the negotiations have prolonged,” Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian told the IRNA Monday, prior to the decision. While the U.S. had demonstrated flexibility on two key issues, a third had yet to be worked out, Amirabdollahian said, likely referencing economic guarantees.
He added that Iran would submit “supplementary statements” to EU High Representative Josep Borrell’s final text Monday.
“If Iran doesn’t accept a mutual return to JCPOA, the U.S. is equally prepared to continue vigorous sanctions enforcement and other diplomatic pressure,” Price said Monday, as Iran’s nuclear program rapidly approaches the level of weapons capability.
Analysts say that neither side is likely to declare the deal dead, as continuing negotiations serves the interests of both parties, according to Reuters.
The EU and Iran’s representative to the UN in New York did not respond to the DCNF’s requests for comment.
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