Iran will not allow any “foreign factor” to harm its interests in ongoing nuclear negotiations between Tehran and world powers in Vienna, Iran’s top diplomat said on Monday, after new Russian demands cast doubt on the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal.
“While standing up for our red lines, we will not allow any foreign factor to affect Iran’s national interests in the Vienna talks,” Iran’s official IRNA news agency quoted Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian as saying.
The Vienna talks appeared even more complicated over the weakened after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Moscow wanted written guarantees from the US that Russia’s economic and military cooperation with Iran would not be harmed by Western sanctions imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine after the 2015 deal is revived.
Russia is a participant in ongoing negotiations in Vienna aimed at restoring the deal, along with Iran, China, Britain, France and Germany. The US is participating indirectly in the talks due to Tehran’s refusal to negotiate directly with Washington.
Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman said on Monday Tehran was waiting to hear more about Russia’s demands through diplomatic channels, indicating Lavrov’s comments were made without prior coordination with Iran.
Iran sees Russia as a strategic ally. Tehran has refrained from condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and instead blamed the West – especially the US – for the conflict. Iranian state media’s coverage of the conflict has also been heavily pro-Russian.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday sanctions imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine “have nothing to do with the Iran nuclear deal and the prospects of getting back into that agreement.”
“These things are totally different and are just not in any way linked together, so I think that’s irrelevant,” Blinken said on CBS talk show “Face the Nation.”
Ali Shamkhani, Iran’s top security chief, said on Monday it “remains unclear” whether a deal will be reached in Vienna, blaming the US.
“Prospect of a deal in #ViennaTalks remains unclear due to Washington’s delay in making political decisions,” he wrote on Twitter.
The Vienna talks, which began in April 2021, aim to bring Iran back into compliance with the deal and facilitate a US return to the agreement. The deal offered Iran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.
Washington withdrew from the deal in 2018 under then-President Donald Trump, reimposing sweeping economic sanctions on Tehran. Iran responded by breaching many of the deal’s restrictions, including a 3.67 percent cap on the purity to which it could enrich uranium.
Tehran, which insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only, has since started enriching uranium up to as high as 60 percent purity – a big step closer to the 90 percent required for weapons-grade material.
A collapse in the Vienna talks could lead to more isolation for Iran and even military conflict. Israel has previously warned it would use force should diplomacy fail to slow down Iran’s fast-advancing nuclear program.
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