Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Russian demands may derail Iran nuclear talks

Russian demands may derail Iran nuclear talks

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Khodayar Rouzbahani, Iran’s political attache at the permanent mission to the Vienna-based international organisations. AFP

Russian demands may derail Iran nuclear talks

Last-minute Russian demands related to the Ukraine conflict threatened to derail the near-complete process of reviving the Iran nuclear deal on March 11, as the EU announced negotiations would be paused.

The EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell tweeted that the pause was “due to external factors,” despite the fact that “a final text is essentially ready and on the table”.

The current round of negotiations started in late November in the Austrian capital Vienna between Britain, China, France, Germany, Iran and Russia, with the US taking part indirectly.

They had progressed most of the way toward their aim – the revival of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which began unravelling when former US President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal in 2018.

The EU diplomat who has been chairing the talks, Enrique Mora, told reporters that delegations had got to the point of “negotiating footnotes”.

He praised in particular the US and Iran for their “very constructive, very positive approach”, adding that he hoped to see the talks resume “very, very soon”.

However, the previous week Russia said it was demanding guarantees that the Western sanctions imposed on its economy following its military offensive in Ukraine would not affect its trade with Iran.

As with the original JCPOA in 2015, Moscow had been expected to play a role in the implementation of any fresh deal, for example by receiving shipments of enriched uranium from Iran.

“The Ukraine conflict has now entered the Vienna talks in a very real way,” Eric Brewer of the Nuclear Threat Initiative said.

He said the “blanket guarantee” demanded by Moscow “has thrown a wrench into this process at the last minute that really threatens to upend talks and prevent the restoration of the JCPOA”.

The US on March 11 put the ball in Iran and Russia’s court after the EU announcement.

“We are confident that we can achieve mutual return to compliance . . . [if] those decisions are made in places like Tehran and Moscow,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.

One EU source close to the talks said that Russia had at first made “reasonable” requests related to its civilian nuclear activities in Iran, but that they were then broadened “outside the scope of the JCPOA”.

Another diplomat from one of the European parties to deal said that “if the Russian block is confirmed to be definitive, we will be obliged to look at other options,” adding that Moscow could not be allowed to “take the deal hostage”.

The head of the British delegation Stephanie al-Qaq tweeted that she was “deeply disappointed” at the pause in the talks.

The last-minute hitch must be resolved in the “next few days”, she warned, or else the agreement was “likely to unravel”.

“Russia’s gambit may be to delay the revival of the deal in order to avoid a flood of Iranian oil on the market” and the subsequent fall in prices, Clement Therme, Iran specialist at France’s Paul Valery University said.

“In keeping prices high, the Kremlin can use energy as a weapon against the West,” he added.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia maintains 'Kun Khmer' stance despite Thailand’s boycott threat

    Cambodia has taken the position that it will use the term "Kun Khmer" to refer to the sport of kickboxing at the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, and has removed the term Muay from all references to the sport. Despite strong reactions from the Thai

  • Artificial insemination takes herd from 7 to 700

    Some farms breed local cows or even import bulls from a broad for the purpose of breeding heavier livestock for meat production. One Tbong Khnum farmer has found a more efficient way. Hout Leang employs artificial insemination to fertilise local cows. Thanks to imported “straws”

  • Chinese group tours return to Cambodia starting Feb 6

    Cambodia is among 20 countries selected by Beijing for a pilot programme allowing travel agencies to provide international group tours as well as flight and hotel packages to Chinese citizens, following a three-year ban. As the days tick down until the programme kicks off on February 6,

  • Capital-Poipet express rail project making headway

    The preliminary results of a feasibility study to upgrade the Phnom Penh-Poipet railway into Cambodia’s first express railway indicate that the project would cost more than $4 billion and would take around four years to complete. The study was carried out by China Road and

  • Thai boxers to join SEA Games’ Kun Khmer event

    The Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC) – together with the Kun Khmer International Federation (KKIF) and Khmer Boxing Federation – have achieved a “great success” by including Kun Khmer in the upcoming biennial multi-sports event on its home soil for the first time, said a senior

  • Bullets to bracelets: Siem Reap man makes waste from war wearable

    Jewellery is often made from valuable gemstones like emeralds or diamonds and precious metals like gold or silver, or valueless things like animal horns. But a man in Siem Reap has approached the manufacture of delicate pieces from a different angle. His unique form of