US Close to Reviving Nuclear Deal With Iran But Russia Wants Guarantees

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by Mish Shedlock, Mish Talk:

Russia threatens to scuttle a last-minute revival the nuclear deal Trump unilaterally scrapped.

Once of the worst decisions of the Trump administration was to unilaterally tear up a nuclear accord with Iran.

The US defense department, US allies, and nuclear agencies all stated Iran was following the accord. But Trump said he could negotiate a better deal and failed.

When Trump placed sanctions on Iran, it did not have enough highly enriched uranium in which to make a nuclear weapon. Now Iran is close.

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Talks advance in Vienna to revive the deal are now underway.  Meanwhile, the U.N. atomic agency reports Iran has almost enough near-weapons-grade nuclear fuel for a bomb.

Iran, U.S. Close to Reviving Iranian Nuclear Deal

The Wall Street Journal reports Iran, U.S. Close to Reviving Iranian Nuclear Deal

After weeks of intense negotiations in Vienna involving the U.S. and Iran, and Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China, senior diplomats said they were now within reach of an agreement that would restore the 2015 deal. That pact lifted most international sanctions on Tehran in exchange for strict but temporary restrictions on Iran’s nuclear work.

“We are very close to an agreement,” chief British negotiator Stephanie Al-Qaq said on Twitter late Thursday. “Now we have to take a few final steps.”

The U.S. left the nuclear deal in 2018, with former President Donald Trump saying it did too little to stop Iran’s pathway to a nuclear weapons. Since 2019, Iran has expanded its nuclear work. On Thursday, the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran had doubled its stockpile of highly enriched uranium, leaving the country close to amassing enough weapons-grade nuclear fuel for a bomb.

In a confidential report circulated to members, the IAEA reported that as of Feb. 19, Iran has 33.2 kilograms of 60% enriched material, up from 17.7 kilograms in early November when the agency last reported. It is the most highly enriched uranium ever recorded for Iran.

Under a restored nuclear deal, Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium would be capped at 202.8 kilograms until 2031, with enrichment levels limited to 3.67%.

The above WSJ article was written March 3. Here’s a news twist as of March 5.

Iran Nuclear Deal Threatened by Russian Demands

Please note Iran Nuclear Deal Threatened by Russian Demands Over Ukraine Sanctions

Fresh demands from Russia threatened to derail talks to restore the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, as Moscow said it wanted written guarantees that Ukraine-related sanctions won’t prevent it from trading broadly with Tehran under a revived pact.

The demands, made by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Saturday, came as Western and Iranian officials said they were very close to reaching a deal to restore the nuclear pact, which lifted most international sanctions on Iran in exchange for tight but temporary restrictions on Tehran’s nuclear programs.

Advances in Iran’s nuclear work means Western officials have warned that if a deal to restore the 2015 nuclear agreement isn’t reached within days, it will make it impossible for the West to reap the main benefit to them of the 2015 agreement—keeping Iran months away from being able to amass enough nuclear fuel for one nuclear weapon.

It had always been understood that Russia’s specific role within the 2015 nuclear deal would need to be protected from sanctions. That includes receiving enriched uranium from Iran and exchanging it for yellowcake, work to turn Iran’s Fordow nuclear facility into a research center and other nuclear-specific deliveries to Tehran’s facilities.

However, Mr. Lavrov appeared to demand far more sweeping guarantees that could introduce major loopholes in the tight financial, economic and energy sanctions the West has imposed in recent days because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We need a guarantee that these sanctions will not in any way touch the regime of trade-economic and investment relations which is laid down in the” nuclear deal, Mr. Lavrov told reporters on Saturday.

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