Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi (far right) meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin (far left) in Moscow, Russia on January 19, 2022.
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As part of efforts to revive the international nuclear agreement with Iran, Russia discussed a possible interim deal with Iran in recent weeks that would involve the reduction of limited sanctions in return for the re-imposition of some restrictions on Tehran’s Nuclear Programaccording to two US officials, a congressional official, a former US official and four others familiar with the discussions.
Sources said the US was aware of Russia’s proposal to Iran, which comes as concern grows within the Biden administration that time is running out about talks between Iran and world powers over full return. nuclear deal 2015, known as the Participating Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA. The Trump administration pulled the United States out of the deal in 2018, and Iran is believed to be closer than ever to a nuclear weapons production capability.
While officials and people familiar with the discussions said talks between Russia and Iran over an interim deal were underway with the US understanding, senior administration officials said. Biden has distanced America from the Russian effort.
Officials and people familiar with the discussions said Iran has so far rejected the proposal put forward by Russia. Iran’s permanent mission to the United Nations on Friday said Tehran did not want an interim deal and refused to discuss the specifics of the Russian proposal.
Any new deal to break away from the JCPOA could be reviewed by Congress.
Therefore, if an understanding of Russia’s provisional proposal is needed, the United States and other governments will likely see it as a first step toward a full return to the 2015 accord, not is a new or separate deal, the sources said. .
A senior Biden administration official said an interim “deal” was not seriously discussed.
“While we cannot speak of any discussions that may have taken place between Russia and Iran, at this stage we are certain that no such provisional agreement is being seriously discussed. sufficient,” the official said. “Regarding an interim agreement, we will not negotiate in the press or comment on specific statements about the negotiations. Our timeline is based on a technical review of the nuclear progress of the United States. Iran rather than a clock.”
The Russian government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
On Friday, Foreign Minister Antony Blinken urged Russia to use its influence over Iran. “If no agreement is reached in the next few weeks, Iran’s continued nuclear advances will make it impossible for it to return to the JCPOA,” Blinken said after meeting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Geneva.
“Russia shares our sense of urgency, the need to see if we can return to mutual compliance in the coming weeks and we hope that Russia will use the influence it has and the relationship they have with Iran to impress on Iran that sense of urgency.”
Under a draft provisional agreement that Russia has presented to Iran, sources said, Iran would be required to stop enriching uranium up to 60% purity and dispose of its current stockpile, possibly by exports to Russia, among other restrictions. In return, the Iranian government will receive access to billions of dollars of oil income frozen in foreign bank accounts, including in South Korea, the sources said.
The discussions between Russia and Iran took place on the sidelines of formal talks in Vienna between Iran and world powers aimed at all parties returning to the 2015 nuclear deal, according to two officials US, a congressional official, said. .
The Vienna talks were complicated by Iran’s insistence that it would not hold direct talks with US officials. Instead, the Americans had to communicate with their Iranian counterparts through European diplomats. The Biden administration said Iran’s stance had slowed the discussions and urged Tehran to reconsider its position.
“We would be in favor of talking directly with the Iranian delegation and believe that would be more effective, however, Iran has not agreed,” the senior administration official said.