VIENNA (AFP) – Last-minute Russian demands relating to the Ukraine crisis threatened to disrupt the near-complete process of resurrecting the Iran nuclear agreement on Friday, when the EU declared a break in discussions.
Despite the fact that “a final document is virtually ready and on the table,” the EU’s foreign policy leader, Josep Borrell, tweeted that the wait was “due to external forces.”
The latest round of talks began in late November in Vienna, Austria, with Britain, China, France, Germany, Iran, and Russia, with the US participating indirectly.
They had come close to achieving their goal of reviving the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which had started to disintegrate when former US President Donald Trump withdrew from it in 2018.
Enrique Mora, the EU ambassador in charge of the discussions, told reporters that delegations had reached the point of “negotiating footnotes.”
He hailed the US and Iran in particular for their “extremely constructive, very good attitude,” and expressed confidence that the discussions will restart “very, very soon.”
Last week, however, Russia stated that it was seeking assurances that the Western sanctions placed on its economy as a result of its invasion of Ukraine would not damage its commerce with Iran.
As with the original JCPOA in 2015, Moscow was anticipated to have a role in any new agreement’s implementation, such as receiving shipments of enriched uranium from Iran.
“The Ukraine war has now entered the Vienna discussions in a very genuine sense,” the Nuclear Threat Initiative’s Eric Brewer told AFP.
He said that Moscow’s demand for a “blanket assurance” “has put a monkey into this process at the last minute that truly threatens to upend discussions and hinder the reinstatement of the JCPOA.”
Following the EU statement, the US placed the ball in the court of Iran and Russia on Friday.
“We are hopeful that we can achieve reciprocal compliance… if those decisions are made in places like Tehran and Moscow,” said State Department spokesman Ned Price.