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Talks to save Iran N-deal make a good start

Vienna: Iran, Russia and the United States reacted positively to the opening exchanges in a first day of talks in Vienna aimed at rescuing an international agreement on Tehran’s nuclear program.

US President Joe Biden has said he is ready to reverse the decision of his predecessor Donald Trump to withdraw from the landmark 2015 agreement, negotiated to ensure that Iran never developed a military nuclear program.

And after Moscow gave a positive assessment of the opening of the talks, Washington’s reaction a little later was also upbeat. Iran too, described the opening talks as constructive.

“I can say that overall, the meeting was constructive,” the head of the Iranian delegation, Abbas Araghchi, said in a video on Iranian broadcaster Irinn.

The United States was not present at those discussions because Iran has refused to meet the US delegation so long as its sanctions against Tehran remain in place. The European Union is acting as an intermediary.

Since Trump pulled the US out of the deal with Iran in 2018, re-imposing sanctions on Tehran, the remaining parties have been struggling to save the agreement, as Iran has gradually stepped up its nuclear activities.

Tehran is demanding an end to the crippling sanctions Trump imposed — before which Iran will not meet the US delegates.

Talks between the delegates from the remaining members of the 2015 agreement will continue at the luxury hotel in Vienna, a diplomat familiar with the discussions said.

The US delegation is due to meet in a different high-end hotel, also in downtown Vienna, with EU negotiators acting as go-betweens.

Iran confirmed in January it was enriching uranium to 20 percent purity, well beyond the threshold set by the deal. (Hindustan Times)

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Rouhani says lifting sanctions only way to save Iran N-deal

Tehran: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani urged the United States to lift sanctions to save the nuclear deal, which is also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the official IRNA news agency reported.

“JCPOA is by no means renegotiable, and the only way to protect and revive it is to remove sanctions by the United States,” Rouhani said in a telephone conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron.

Iran’s gradual retreat from its nuclear obligations is due to the US withdrawal from the JCPOA as well as the “inability” of Britain, France and Germany to fulfill their nuclear commitments, Rouhani said, stressing that Iran will re-embrace its obligations immediately if other parties of the deal adhere to their undertakings.

Iran’s recent suspension of the voluntary implementation of the additional protocol of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is within the framework of the law passed by the Iranian parliament, he said.

In the meantime, “our cooperation with the IAEA continues and we have never left the JCPOA,” he stressed.

On February 23, Iran stopped implementation of the voluntary measures including the IAEA Additional Protocol, as envisaged in the JCPOA, which are beyond safeguard agreement. (CGTN News)

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Latest News USA

US wants Iran to pay a price before reviving deal

By Mohammed Ayoob

Although the US has recently indicated that it is willing to engage in talks with Iran in a multilateral forum sponsored by the EU in order to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), it has also reiterated demands that could make the deal’s revival next to impossible.

First, Washington has insisted that the issue should be linked to Iran returning to full compliance with the agreement’s limits before the US can contemplate lifting sanctions imposed by the Donald Trump administration. The European parties to the JCPOA have also veered towards the American view as the Iranian nuclear stockpile and enrichment capability has grown. Iran exceeded the JCPOA limits on the level of uranium enrichment and stockpiling of enriched uranium beginning in May 2019 after waiting for a year for the European signatories to persuade the US to return to the agreement and remove sanctions.

Second, in statements by secretary of state Antony Blinken and other officials, the Joe Biden administration has strongly signalled that the US will return to the JCPOA only when its other concerns regarding Iran are satisfied. These include reining in Iran’s growing missile capability and reversing the trajectory of its regional policy that is perceived as inimical to American interests and those of its West Asian allies. In particular, the US wants Iran to curtail its backing for groups such as Hezbollah, which it considers terrorists, and its continued support for the Assad regime.

Both these demands are based on the strange logic that Iran, which was in compliance with the JCPOA for a whole year after the American withdrawal in May 2018, should be made to pay the price for the US’s return to the agreement. This despite the fact that Iran has adopted an incremental strategy of exceeding the limits imposed by JCPOA that can be easily reversed once the US returns to the original deal. The Iranian leadership has clearly indicated that Tehran would do so once the sanctions imposed by Trump are lifted.

Simultaneously, Iran has declared numerous times that linking extraneous issues, such as its ballistic missiles programme and its regional policies, to the JCPOA is totally unacceptable to it. Commentators often forget that the Barack Obama administration in its negotiations with Tehran had originally attempted to link these issues to the signing of JCPOA, but eventually realised that this would make an agreement impossible. They concluded that in the absence of a deal, the Iranian nuclear programme would forge ahead and end with either Tehran acquiring full-fledged weapons capability or a major conflagration in West Asia that could leave the region devastated and American policy in tatters.

The American demands and the European powers’ concurrence with them are based on the bizarre reasoning that the party that was in observance of the agreement must pay the price for the return of the renegade to comply with it.

The US-EU approach also ignores the historical context in which the Iranian nuclear programme is embedded. No consideration is given to the factors that led to Tehran launching its nuclear weapons programme in the first place.

Western policy makers and analysts ignore that the original sin of introducing nuclear weapons into West Asia was committed by Israel with French help and US connivance. It is, therefore, foolhardy to assume that nuclear proliferation in West Asia can be stopped as long as Israel continues to possess nuclear weapons capability. Iranian efforts at developing nuclear weapons cannot be divorced from this reality. Realising this fact would be the beginning of wisdom for policy makers and analysts dealing with West Asia.

(The article appeared in The Indian Express)

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US attempts to scuttle Iran nuclear deal will fail: Russian FM

Moscow: The US attempts to force Iran nuclear deal participants to renounce their obligations and to punish Tehran by illegitimate initiatives, including the arms embargo, have no prospects from the point of view of international law, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

“We will use all the opportunities this international law provides to make sure that justice is served,” Lavrov said during a news conference following talks with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif, Xinhua news agency reported.

The Iran nuclear deal, or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was reached in 2015 between Iran and the P5+1, which is the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council — the United States, Britain, Russia, France, China, plus Germany — plus the European Union.

Tehran agreed to roll back parts of its nuclear weapons program in exchange for decreased economic sanctions.

In May 2018, the United States announced a unilateral withdrawal from the deal and the restoration of stringent sanctions against the Islamic republic.

In reaction to the U.S. withdrawal from the landmark deal, and in response to Europe’s sluggishness in facilitating Iran’s banking transactions and oil exports, Iran has been gradually moving away from its nuclear commitments since May 2019.

Lavrov said that Russia will do everything so that no one can destroy the agreements that are enshrined in the JCPOA.

“But Washington does not have any right to punish Iran by speculating on the authority of the UN Security Council and essentially manipulating the Security Council, and to a certain extent the UN secretariat,” Lavrov said.

He said he could not vouch for the position of other members of the JCPOA, above all its European members, which are under tremendous pressure from the United States.

But those who would like to support the United States or try to partially help Washington have no legal arguments, which is obvious to all, Lavrov said.

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