Belgium (Brussels Morning Newspaper) Only a very small number of issues remain unresolved in the marathon Iran nuclear treaty talks currently taking place in Vienna, as Washington and Tehran apparently move closer to an agreement.
Several key obstacles appear to have been solved, the Russian side having confirmed on Wednesday that it was satisfied with the written guarantees it had received from the US, while Tehran released two British-Iranian nationals, who had been held for years in Iranian prisons.
The talks aim to revive the lapsed nuclear treaty, the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), that was signed in 2015 between Iran, the US, China, Russia, France, the UK, Germany and the EU. The treaty provided Tehran with relief from western sanctions in exchange for accepting and setting hard limits on Iran’s nuclear programme designed to prevent the country from ever developing nuclear weapons.
When the treaty was ended abruptly by former US President Donald Trump in 2018, Tehran engaged in a progressive series of breaches of its provisions, as it sought to force the US back to the negotiating table. After the new administration took over in Washington, a new round of talks between the original signatories was launched in Vienna almost a year ago. Progress slowed down last year as hardline, ultra-conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi was elected Iran’s president, replacing the moderate Hassan Rouhani, who had negotiated the original treaty.
While a deal appeared close in recent weeks, the conflict between Ukraine and Russia set a fresh challenge as Russia demanded written guarantees from Washington that its nuclear cooperation with Iran would not be jeopardised by the sanctions the west had imposed on Moscow.
After visiting Moscow on Tuesday this week, Iran’s Foreign Minister, Hossein Amirabdolahian, said he had been “reassured that Russia remains on board” for the final agreement. His Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, declared that the negotiations were entering the “home stretch”, as he confirmed that Moscow had received the necessary guarantees from the US.