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Iran nuclear deal negotiations: key issues on the Vienna negotiating table Iran’s nuclear deal

What’s happening in Vienna?

A joint commission responsible for overseeing the 2015 Iran nuclear deal is looking for a way for the United States to join the deal – left under Donald Trump – and lift its sanctions on Tehran and for Iran to end its retaliation across borders. there are nuclear program.

During this week, experts from the remaining signatories ̵

1; Iran, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia, China and the EU – met at the Vienna Grand Hotel and forwarded messages to the US delegation across the road at a neighboring hotel. On Friday, the Joint Commission will convene again to examine whether sufficient progress has been made to continue negotiations on the revival of the agreement, which lifted economic sanctions against Iran in return for slowing down its nuclear program.

What progress has been made and why now?

It took 76 days from Joe Biden’s inauguration before negotiations began, in part because both sides needed to go through backchannels to agree on a format, frame an agenda and square domestic support. On Monday, the United States and Iran agreed that they had two lists to put together. First, they need to agree on a complete list of the sanctions that the United States needs to lift in order to come back in line with UN resolutions on the nuclear deal. Secondly, they need to put together a complete list of the restrictions that Iran must reopen in order to return to compliance. Iran will not speak directly to the United States, so it is cumbersome.

Is it easy to identify the steps the United States needs to take?

No. When the United States signed the original agreement in 2015, it critically distinguished between the repeal of existing nuclear-related sanctions and other sanctions it would retain in the context of Iranian terrorist acts, its ballistic missile program, human rights violations, or cybercrime. Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi now insists that all sanctions imposed since January 2016, the date of the 2015 agreement, were lifted. But the United States says some of the sanctions imposed by Trump after that date can be said to be non-nuclear related and therefore do not need to be lifted. Eg. Iranian-backed hackers were sanctioned in September, as were three judges, three deputy directors of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization involved in its ballistic missile program. The Biden administration has even added sanctions against human rights abusers. Some individuals and entities have been sanctioned for more than one reason.

Questions and answers

What is Iran’s nuclear deal?


In July 2015, Iran and a six-nation negotiating team reached a milestone agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan, which ended a 12-year stalemate over Tehran’s nuclear program. The agreement, reached in Vienna after nearly two years of intensive negotiations, limited the Iranian program to reassure the rest of the world that it could not develop nuclear weapons in return for sanction relief.

At its core, the JCPOA is a straightforward trade: Iran’s acceptance of strict limits to its nuclear program in return for an escape from the sanctions that grew up around its economy over a decade prior to the deal. Under the agreement, Iran disconnected two-thirds of its centrifuges, sent 98% of its enriched uranium and filled its plutonium production reactor with concrete. Tehran also accepted extensive monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has reaffirmed ten times since the agreement, and as recently as February, that Tehran has complied with its terms. In return, all nuclear-related sanctions were lifted in January 2016, reconnecting Iran to global markets.

The six superpowers involved in nuclear talks with Iran were in a group known as P5 + 1: the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – China, France, Russia, Britain and the United States – and Germany. The nuclear deal is also enshrined in a UN Security Council resolution incorporating it into international law. The 15 members of the council at the time unanimously approved the agreement.

On May 8, 2018, US President Donald Trump withdrew his country from the agreement. Iran announced its partial withdrawal from the nuclear deal a year later. Trump’s successor, Joe Biden, has said the United States could return to the deal if Iran fulfills its obligations.

Saeed Kamali Dehghan, Iran correspondent

In an effort to make it harder to dismantle his sanctions, Trump also blurred the boundaries between nuclear and non-nuclear sanctions by reorganizing many of the nuclear-related sanctions as terrorism-related. So Trump designated as a foreign terrorist organization not only the Revolutionary Guards, but the central bank, the Ministry of Oil and the national Iranian oil company. Trump argued that they channeled cash to Hezbollah and other organizations. Reaching an agreed list of sanctions after 2016, which both sides consider nuclear-related, is at the heart of shuttle diplomacy. After an account, there are 1,500 penalties to be categorized.

Are there any guidelines for what sanctions should be lifted?

Not really. The nuclear deal obliges the United States to “refrain from any policy specifically intended to directly or negatively affect the normalization of trade and economic relations with Iran inconsistently [with the deal]”And to” prevent interference in Iran’s full benefit of the lifting of sanctions. ” Iran relies on this wording to argue that most sanctions should be lifted.

What should Iran do again?

The successive steps that Iran has taken away from the agreement can be easily specified as each one was announced by Iran at the time the step was taken. Iran has exceeded the uranium enrichment purity threshold of 3.67%, the size of its uranium stock exceeds the 300 kg limit, it uses advanced centrifuges that enrich uranium faster than the agreement allows, and it has limited the conditions for UN nuclear inspections. These discussions are terribly technical, but urgent. Iran announced this week that it had cleaned 55 kg of uranium by 20% in just three months, indicating a faster production rate than the 10 kg per month required by parliament, with the spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization claiming that its production rate is “up to 40%” faster.

What happens after the lists of steps to be made are agreed upon?

Iran seems to be saying that it will not reverse its steps until US sanctions are lifted and this is confirmed to its satisfaction. So it requires Biden not only to sign an executive order or a piece of paper, but for the changes to have a real impact on Iran’s ability to do business. The United States had argued for a staged, step-by-step agreement so that each could check that the other side was fulfilling its obligations. Robert Malley, the US envoy to Iran, said: “I think what we can essentially exclude is the maximalist demands that the United States must first do everything, and only in return will Iran then act; I do not think anyone is under the impression that it would be a viable proposal. ”

Is there a deadline?

Iran has presidential elections in June, but both sides, eager to show no negotiable vulnerabilities, say this does not represent a target date. Iranian experts disagree on the extent to which an Iranian president’s policy really influences decisions on nuclear files in the Islamic Republic. Some say Iran’s nuclear policy is a product of a hidden consensus, with unelected bodies including the top leader making the calls. Malley said: “We will negotiate with whoever is president.” But it seems logical that Washington prefers to negotiate with a president who is better off in the West than a leader who plans to build a resistance economy.

Should the enforcement of this agreement be changed?

Iran’s confidence in the 2015 deal has been corrupted since Trump’s decision to rescind the deal from the Iranian point of view at no cost to the United States. The 2015 agreement was a non-binding political agreement with incentives for both sides to abide by. But Biden would need the support of two-thirds of Congress to make this agreement an international treaty. An alternative would be a congressional executive agreement that requires approval by simple majority vote of both Congresses.

So what happens if they implement an agreement?

Iran says “it is,” but the United States wants to revise the agreement’s outdated sunset clauses as planned in the original agreement, limiting Iran’s missile program and its regional behavior. Some of this could be addressed in a treaty. Others through diplomacy. Republicans in Congress argue that Biden will no longer have any leverage to get Iran to the negotiating table on these issues, as the sanctions slug would have been thrown away.

Noise from …

A myriad of forces will try to interrupt the talks. Israel attacked an Iranian ship in the Gulf. Saudi Arabia is nervous. Hardliners in both countries and the militant diaspora all have a voice, if not a complete veto. Human rights campaigns do not want their detained friends and family thrown aside at the negotiating table.

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