Iran must lower expectations to revive nuclear deal – US

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The US says it will only renew the Iran nuclear deal if Tehran abandons “extraneous” demands

Iran must abandon some of its positions towards treaty partners if it wants to resuscitate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, US State Department spokesman Ned Price declared on Monday, insisting that Tehran drop “further unacceptable demands that go beyond the scope of the JCPOA.”

The US will provide its response to the “final” version of the deal text provided by the EU in private, Price said.

Tehran’s response to the latest draft text had been delivered to the EU’s top envoy, Josep Borrell, on Monday night, just ahead of the deadline set by Brussels, according to senior diplomatic sources cited by Politico and Iran’s semi-official ISNA.

The final text supplied by EU negotiators includes a requirement that Iran respond to questions from the International Atomic Energy Agency “with a view to clarifying them” in exchange for the other parties to the deal advising the IAEA to drop a 2019 probe into the discovery of uranium particles at a location not previously declared as a nuclear site.

While Iran had attempted to make concluding the probe part of the negotiations since March, the US and EU had previously argued they couldn’t negotiate on behalf of the IAEA, insisting it was a separate issue unrelated to the JCPOA. IAEA head Rafael Grossi has pledged not to drop the investigation until Iran explains where the uranium came from and where it is now.

Until recently, Iran had also demanded that any revival of the nuclear deal include the US removing its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from its Foreign Terrorist Organizations list. While Washington was reportedly considering granting this wish, it wanted security-related concessions in return, and ultimately opted to keep the military unit on the blacklist. 

The initial nuclear deal signed in 2015 by Iran, the US, UK, France, and Germany – as well as Russia, China, and the EU – involved Tehran agreeing to certain restrictions on its nuclear industry in exchange for the easing of economic sanctions and other incentives.

US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the agreement in May 2018, however, saying it was fundamentally flawed. As a result, Iran started gradually reducing some of its commitments under the accord, such as the level of enriched uranium it produces, which could potentially enable Tehran to build an atomic bomb. According to the Iranian authorities, however, this “is not on the agenda.”

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