Sunday, 22 July, 2018

Talks on Iran nuclear deal amid questions of USA commitment

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Johnnie Parks | 17 March, 2018, 02:30

The Iranian diplomatic team visiting Vienna for regular talks on the implementation of the nuclear deal (JCPOA) has said diplomats from Iran and the USA were likely to hold mutual talks on Friday on the worldwide nuclear agreement, an source close to the Iranian diplomatic team said on Friday.

Representatives from Iran, the US, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany convened in the Austrian city of Vienna on Friday for a meeting of the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action Joint Commission, or JCPOA.

The differences are even more stark on the sunset provisions, which are codified in the nuclear deal and which the Europeans and Iran regard as inviolable, according to the diplomats.

The meeting comes ahead of a May 12 deadline for US President Donald Trump to extended waivers of economic sanctions on Iran. "It was with Tillerson's State Department that the U.K., Germany and France were negotiating".

Ahead of the talks, a senior Iranian Foreign Ministry official has ruled out speculation that Iran could accept a side deal to the JCPOA, saying the global document is basically not re-negotiable. Pompeo "is certain to advise the president to withdraw the United States from our obligations under the nuclear agreement", said Diplomacy Works, a group of mainly former Obama administration officials that lobbies for staying in the deal.

Considering that the nuclear deal has failed in its objectives to stop Iran from gaining nuclear weapons, and has rather allowed Iran to continue with other malign activities too, this would be the best scenario. One senior negotiator involved in the talks said last week that Europe is prepared to be "creative" in addressing the provisions but would not budge from opposing any measure that would punish Iran for activity that is otherwise permitted under the 2015 agreement. Other reports have said that the president continues to oppose a supplemental agreement that could include elements of the changes he is seeking in favor of amendments to the nuclear deal itself, which was ratified by the United Nations Security Council.

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But analysts said European banks and other firms are already reluctant to do business in Iran due to the threat of a possible "snap-back" of USA sanctions and don't want to lose their access to the vast American market. Doing so would buy US negotiators time to deal with elements of the agreement Trump has disparaged - such as its expiration dates on key nuclear constraints - and missile and terrorism concerns.

The agreement would remain in force even after the USA potential withdrawal, so its future would depend on Iran's reaction, Kedmi argued.

"The United States is aware that it is not the only party to the nuclear agreement with Iran... meaning that the USA withdrawal will remain a unilateral U.S. decision, not binding for the rest of the parties, and may negatively affect the future of [other] US-sponsored agreements", Al Turki said.

A US withdrawal could wreck the agreement, scaring off European investment that Iran saw as a key reward for agreeing to limit its uranium enrichment and other nuclear work. Trump has repeatedly called the agreement "the worst deal ever", diminishing the likelihood of a compromise before May 12.

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