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Saturday, May 21, 2022

The nuclear deal is just around the corner

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The European Union envoy, who coordinates the discussions on the reactivation of the agreement on the Iranian nuclear program, will arrive in Tehran on Saturday afternoon to work on the resolution of the remaining points of disagreement between the Islamic Republic and the United States, in a visit preceded by the expectation of the chancellor of the continental bloc to reach an understanding “in a few days”.
This comes on a day when Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian revealed that Washington’s removal of the Revolutionary Guard’s “terrorist” designation is one of the pending issues in talks to revive the agreement.

About a year ago, Iran and the powers still included in the 2015 agreement (France, Great Britain, Germany, Russia and China) began talks in Vienna with the indirect participation of the United States, which unilaterally withdrew from it in 2018.

The European Union assumes the role of coordinator in the discussions aimed at reactivating the agreement by returning Washington to its board of directors and lifting the sanctions that it re-imposed on Iran after its withdrawal, and the latter’s compliance with all its provisions after retracting many of them in response to the US measure.

Stakeholders confirmed that progress has been made, leaving points of disagreement that require “political decisions.”

The diplomat, Enrique Mora, is scheduled to arrive in Tehran on Saturday night, and on Sunday he will meet with Iran’s chief negotiator, Ali Bagheri, according to the official IRNA news agency.

Mora had written on Twitter that the visit was in the context of completing “filling the remaining gaps in the Vienna talks on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the official name of the agreement)… we have to finish this negotiation. There is a lot in Game”.

Before the arrival of Mora, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the European Union, Josep Borrell, hoped from Doha that an agreement could soon be closed.

“We are very close (to reaching an agreement), but there are some pending issues,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the “Doha Forum” dialogue, adding: “I cannot say when or how, but it is a matter of days.”

The agreement allowed the lifting of sanctions on Tehran in exchange for strict limits on its nuclear program. However, the United States withdrew from it under President Donald Trump and reimposed harsh sanctions, prompting Tehran to withdraw from most of its commitments under the deal.

Western countries stress the need to speed up the completion of talks and revive the deal in light of Iran’s accelerating nuclear activities and shortening of the period it may need to collect enough materials to build an atomic weapon, knowing that Tehran He has always refused to seek such a thing.

While stakeholders recently underscored the proximity of the deal, a stumbling block arose related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as Moscow sought written assurances from Washington that recently imposed Western sanctions due to the crisis with kyiv would not affect its cooperation with Ukraine. Tehran.

On March 11, Borrell announced the suspension of the talks in the Austrian capital, confirming that the parties would continue their parallel consultations.

A few days later, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov confirmed that Russia would get what it wanted, after meeting with Amir Abdollahian in Moscow.

After the issue circulated in media reports, Amir Abdollahian confirmed for the first time officially on Saturday that removing the US “terrorist” designation from the Revolutionary Guards is one of the few remaining issues.

He stressed that Iran wants to withdraw the designation, although the Guards commanders asked that this not be an “obstacle” for the agreement if it serves Tehran’s interests.

“The issue of the Revolutionary Guards is, of course, part of our negotiations,” the minister said, adding to Iranian state television that “the problem (at the moment) lies in some important pending issues between us and the United States.” . and equity is one of the issues “on the agenda.”

He stressed that several Guard officials asked the Foreign Ministry “to do what is necessary in accordance with the national interests of the country, and if we reach a point where the subject of the Revolutionary Guard is raised, the subject of the Revolutionary Guard should not be an obstacle for you.”

He explained that these officials “sacrifice” by saying that “if you find that the country’s interest is preserved in the agreement, do not give priority to the issue of the Revolutionary Guard.”

However, he continued, “in addition to other points that are still pending (…) we will not allow ourselves to inform the United States that we are willing to abandon the issue of the Revolutionary Guard, despite the permission that has been granted to us by high officials” in he.

Trump listed the Guards as “foreign terrorist organizations” in 2019 after withdrawing Washington from the deal.

A demand to delist it elicits domestic opposition in the United States, and strong objection from Israel, the Islamic Republic’s archenemy, knowing that experts believe the effects of delisting the Watch remain symbolic, as this does not it will affect several US sanctions packages have been imposed on it.

During the talks, Western countries focused on the importance of Iran returning to full compliance with all its commitments, while Tehran insisted on the priority of lifting sanctions and verifying that, and obtaining guarantees that there will be no repeat of the US withdrawal or its economic consequences.

Washington stressed this week that Iran must make “difficult” decisions to complete the talks and revive the deal.

“The onus is on Tehran to make decisions that it may find difficult,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said Tuesday, adding: “There are a number of difficult issues that we are still trying to resolve.”

He stressed that his country maintains in its account the possibility of disagreement, and that the understanding “is neither imminent nor certain, and for this reason, in particular, we are preparing ourselves during the year for any possibility of an emergency.”

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken arrived in Israel on Saturday for “historic” talks with Arab countries that normalized relations with the Jewish state under the US-brokered Abraham Accords.

The prospect of a nuclear deal with Tehran worries Israel and America’s allies in the Gulf, who see Iran as a threat.

In February, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said he was “deeply disturbed” by the prospect of a new nuclear deal, which Israel fears will not prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

Bennett sent an unusual message to Saudi Arabia on Saturday, expressing “sorrow” over the wave of attacks launched on Friday by Iran-backed Yemeni Houthi rebels, which hit targets in the kingdom.

“This attack is further proof that Iran’s regional aggression knows no bounds,” Bennett wrote on Twitter late Saturday.

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