Iran seeks ‘creative ways’ to reach nuclear deal after Russian request

Tehran, Iran (AFP) – A senior Iranian official said on Monday that his country was looking for “creative ways” to restore its nuclear deal with world powers, after Russia’s foreign minister linked sanctions on Moscow over its war on Ukraine to ongoing negotiations.

The tweet of Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s powerful Supreme National Security Council, offers the first high-level acknowledgment of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s demands.

“The participants in Vienna act and interact based on interests and this is understandable,” Shamkhani wrote. “Our interactions… are also driven solely by the interests of our people. Thus, we are evaluating the new elements affecting the negotiations, and therefore we will look for creative ways to expedite a solution.”

In recent days, negotiators from all sides in Vienna have indicated that a potential deal is close The head of the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency has agreed to a timetable with Iran to reveal answers to long-standing questions it has had about Tehran’s programme..

But Lavrov said on Saturday he wanted “at least guarantees at the level of the foreign minister” that US sanctions would not affect Moscow’s relationship with Tehran. That cast doubt on months of negotiations that have gone on so far to restore the 2015 deal, which saw Iran agree to significantly reduce uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

On Sunday, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken called Lavrov’s request “irrelevant” because the nuclear deal and sanctions imposed on Moscow over the Ukraine war were “totally different.” The United States under then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the agreement in 2018, years of tensions and attacks ignited across the Middle East.

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“Exiting the deal was one of the worst mistakes made in recent years. It left the entire Iranian nuclear program that we put in a box out of the box,” Blinken told CBS’s “Face the Nation” talk show. And so if there is a way to go back to effectively re-executing this deal, it is in our region.”

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said Monday in Tehran that “peaceful nuclear cooperation” between China, Iran and Russia should not be restricted by sanctions. China and Russia are part of the agreement, which also includes Germany, Britain and France. The United States has withdrawn from the talks since its withdrawal.

He said: “Russia has so far shown a constructive approach to reaching a collective agreement in Vienna, and we interpret what they say in this context.” “We will wait for them to give us more details in Vienna.”

He added that Iran and the United States continued to negotiate a possible prisoner exchange deal, such as the one that accompanied the previous nuclear deal.

“The remaining differences are fewer than the fingers of a hand – if no one adds a new case,” Khatibzadeh said.

Meanwhile, the English-language state-owned Tehran Times newspaper on Monday published an article suggesting that the draft nuclear deal in Vienna would allow Iran “to keep advanced centrifuges and nuclear materials inside the country.”

Without providing a source for the information, the newspaper said it was “a form of inherent safeguard to make sure that its nuclear program could be completely undone if the United States reneged on its commitments again.”

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The 2015 nuclear deal saw Iran put advanced centrifuges in storage under IAEA monitoring, keeping its enrichment at 3.67% purity and its stockpile at just 300 kilograms (661 pounds) of uranium.

As of February 19, The International Atomic Energy Agency says Iran has stockpiled all of its enriched uranium It was approximately 3,200 kilograms (7,055 lb). Some have been enriched by up to 60% – a technical step short of weapon levels by 90%.

Speaking from Vienna, International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said any potential renewed nuclear deal would be a “highly complex agreement” that would involve a number of steps and sequences. He also acknowledged that his inspectors faced a difficult task in filling the loopholes left by Iran in the possession of monitoring tapes of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the restriction of access amid the tensions.

Grossi said the inspector had to make sure everything was “calculated perfectly for the gram”.

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Gambrell reported from Dubai, UAE.

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