Iran: JCPOA deal possible once ‘red lines’ are considered | Messages

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Months of negotiations over a nuclear deal are expected to result in a deal — or collapse — within days.

Tehran, Iran – Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian says he is ready to travel to Vienna to finalize a deal to restore the country’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers once all his “red lines” are taken care of.

The comments on Friday came during a phone call with Josep Borell, the European Union’s foreign policy chief and coordinator of the negotiations in the Austrian capital.

Iran‘s foreign ministry said in a statement that Amirabdollahian also told Borrell that Iran was ready to conclude the 11-month talks, but “hurry” on the part of Western parties could not undermine Iran’s demands.

“The requirement for foreign ministers to be present in Vienna and the announcement of a final deal is conditional on Iran’s declared red lines, including effective economic guarantees, being fully respected,” Amirabdollahian was quoted as saying.

For his part, Borrell said he believes most of Iran’s demands have been met and that talks to restore the Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the deal is formally called, are on the way to being finalized.

Iran has called for the lifting of a wide range of sanctions – including designating the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a “foreign terrorist organization”; a mechanism to verify the effective lifting of sanctions and guarantees that the United States will not withdraw from the deal, as it did unilaterally in 2018.

There are growing signs that an agreement could be imminent if a small but important number of issues are resolved.

“We now have to walk the last few meters,” UK chief negotiator Stephanie al-Qaq tweeted on Friday, posting pictures of her teams along with her colleagues from France and Germany to thank them and point out that the work is almost over.

However, key officials from the three European countries continued to hold high-level meetings on Friday, sitting down with Iran’s chief negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani and Deputy Foreign Minister for Economic Diplomacy Mehdi Safari.

Russia and China continue to support the restoration of the nuclear deal as it appears that the war in Ukraine has not affected either side’s willingness to support the talks.

IAEA director expected in Tehran

Apart from the sanctions, nuclear issues are also blocking the way to a final agreement. These could be resolved on Saturday when the head of global nuclear regulators is expected in Tehran.

Rafael Grossi, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has confirmed he will meet with senior officials in the Iranian capital before returning to Vienna, where he is expected to address reporters on Saturday night.

A key issue likely to be discussed is Iran’s request that an IAEA investigation of four nuclear sites where undisclosed radioactive particles were found be dropped.

Iran, which says the particles are dated more than 10 years ago, argues the probe is a political ploy by the West and Israel, and insists that the question of the possible military dimensions of its nuclear program should be considered as part of the original JCPOA talks have been resolved.

But Grossi made it clear on Wednesday that the IAEA would “never” abandon its safeguards investigation and would seek “clarification” from Iran during his visit.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who wants the investigation to remain open, spoke to Grossi on Thursday. The two are reportedly set to speak again after Grossi left Tehran.

The IAEA released its latest confidential report on Iran on Thursday, which said Iran has 33.2 kilograms of 60 percent enriched uranium, up from 17.7 kilograms in November, according to documents leaked to Western media.

The JCPOA limited Iran’s enrichment levels to 3.67 percent and its stockpile to 202.8 kg by 2031, but the country gradually abandoned those limitations after the US withdrawal, while claiming it would never aim for a nuclear bomb.

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