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Iranian nuclear talks clouded by Russian demands -Breaking

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO – A gas flare is seen on an oil platform in Soroush’s oil fields. It can be viewed alongside an Iranian flag at the Gulf of July 25, 2005. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi/File Photo

By Parisa Hafezi

VIENNA (Reuters – Discussions about reviving Iran’s 2015 nuke deal were hampered on Sunday by Russia’s demand for a U.S. assurance that its trade will be protected from sanctions related to the Ukraine conflict.

Moscow put a wrench in the works Saturday just as indirect talks between Tehran, Washington, and Vienna seemed to be heading for an agreement. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the West’s sanctions on Ukraine were a blocker for any nuclear deal.

Antony Blinken, the U.S. Secretary-of-State, attempted to dispel any talk of these obstacles Sunday by stating that Russia’s sanctions on Ukraine have nothing to do in a possible deal with Iran.

Blinken spoke with CBS’s Face the Nation to discuss a possible Iran deal. However, he cautioned that there are still some very complex issues.

Reuters heard from a senior Iranian official earlier that Tehran wanted clarification from Moscow on the comments made by Lavrov. Lavrov stated that Russia required a written U.S. assurance that Russia’s trade and investment with Iran will be unaffected by sanctions.

It is important to clearly understand what Moscow wants. “If what they want is connected to the JCPOA it would be easy to find a solution,” the Iranian official said, referring specifically to the 2015 nuclear agreement, The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

But it could be difficult if Moscow requires guarantees which are not within the JCPOA.

British, French, and German diplomats had returned home from their trip to the United Kingdom before Lavrov made his remarks to brief officials about the talks. They have yet to indicate when they will return to Vienna. Enrique Mora is the EU diplomat who coordinates talks between Tehran, world powers, and Iranian negotiators.

DILEMMA PRISONERS

Senior officials in Russia have been pressing for closer ties since the election last year of Ebrahim Raisi, Iran’s hardline leader.

Ayatollah Khmenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader, has been publicly calling for closer relations with Russia, citing deep suspicion of America.

In 2015, Iran, the United States and France, Britain and Germany signed a deal that limited Iran’s enrichment. This made it more difficult for Tehran to produce nuclear weapons material. Trump pulled out of the United States’ 2018 agreement, causing it to fall apart.

Iranian oil could be returned to replace Russian barrels that were lost in the US-led invasion of Moscow. This would also help ease the West’s high inflation.

Robert Malley, U.S. diplomat has stated that the security of the nuclear pact cannot be secured unless Tehran releases four U.S. citizen including Siamak Namazi (Iran-American father) and Siamak Namazi (son).

Tehran, a senior Iranian official stated that Tehran can meet Tehran’s demands and the prisoners problem could be resolved without or with reopening the nuclear accord.

Iran does not recognize dual nationality and denies the accusations by the United States that it uses prisoners for diplomatic leverage. Over the past few years, many dual citizens and foreigners have been arrested by elite Revolutionary Guards, mostly for security-related and espionage related charges.

Tehran sought to release more than 12 Iranians currently in the United States. This includes seven Iranian-American dual nationals and two Iranians with permanent U.S. residence. There are also four Iranian citizens who have no legal status within the United States.

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