PICTURED: The meeting of the JCPOA resumes in the Grand Hotel Wien, Vienna, April 6, 2021. Photo credit: Reuters. Fair Use.
TEHRAN, Iran. March 6th, 2022. Over the last 4 days many of the final hurdles towards the agreement of a revised nuclear deal with Iran have been cleared. The French envoy to the ongoing negotiations in Vienna said an agreement is “very, very close,” while the Russian envoy expects it sometime this week.
On Monday the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released a joint statement of understanding to clear up issues which nuclear inspectors found earlier at a total of three sites, an issue cited by parties to the deal earlier.
Under the statement, Iran will produce a report on the three sites, answer any further questions, and then reconvene. It’s yet to be known if this is satisfactory to Europe and the U.S.
China and Russia have both continued to back the agreement and there seems to be no impact from the war in Ukraine on Russia’s willingness to get the deal done.
On Monday, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian told EU’s top diplomat Joseph Borrell by telephone, that “we are ready to finalize a good and immediate agreement,” as “most of Iran’s requests have been considered in the upcoming agreement”.
A pair of “red lines” as Amirabdollahian described them, involve the questions of sanctions relief, and guarantees the U.S. will not depart from the new accords.
The nuclear deal, known as the 2015 JCPOA, limits Iranian nuclear capabilities in exchange for greater access to the world’s oil markets and protections on its trade. These were not well implemented before the Trump Administration withdrew from the deal and imposed crippling economic sanctions to try and force more concessions. But as sanctions always do, they failed to generate any gains for the U.S., and now the revised agreement is looking like it will be even more agreeable for the Iranians.
A better-armed truce
Tehran Times reports that the new JCPOA will be implemented over a series of six stages. Iran will have several weeks to verify that the United States have lifted all economic sanctions, which the Biden Administration have continued to impose during the 11-month negotiations.
Furthermore, in light of the Biden team’s reluctance to concede guarantees that it will remain in the agreement until its end, the Times report that under a draft of the deal made last Wednesday, the revised JCPOA will allow Iran to keep its advanced, IR6 reactors, and the roughly 33 kilograms of uranium which she has enriched to 60%.
These will remain as part of her own guarantee in case Biden should, as Trump did, renege on the deal. This is obviously the chief point that has prevented the deal from being reached in the view of the Americans: that Tehran must reverse all the enrichment and stockpiling done in the years following Trump’s 2018 departure from the agreement.
Jason Ditz, writing for Antiwar, suggests that this stance reversal has been made in light of the spike in oil and gas prices around the world in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Opening up global oil markets to the vast reserves in the Islamic Republic could be the key to stabilizing rising prices, and uplifting Biden’s plummeting popularity before decisive midterm elections.