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Iran Nuclear Talks Stumble Over Unresolved Russian Demands

Two Western diplomats said it was still not clear what the exact nature of Moscow’s demands were, while a European diplomat said Russia was demanding sweeping guarantees on trade between Moscow and Tehran, demands that were deemed unacceptable.
Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani arrives at Palais Coburg where closed-door nuclear talks with Iran take place in Vienna, Austria, February 28, 2022. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo
Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani arrives at Palais Coburg where closed-door nuclear talks with Iran take place in Vienna, Austria, February 28, 2022. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo

Parties trying to revive the Iran nuclear deal scrambled on Wednesday to resolve last-minute Russian demands that threaten to scupper negotiations, diplomats said, with the United States appearing unwilling to engage with Russia on the matter.

Western powers on Tuesday warned Russia against wrecking an almost completed deal on bringing the United States and Iran back into compliance with the 2015 accord. Iran’s top negotiator returned to Vienna on Wednesday from consultations in Tehran.

Russia’s envoy to the talks, Mikhail Ulyanov, dismissed any suggestion Moscow was holding up an agreement and said a final text had in any case not been completed.

Eleven months of talks to restore the deal, which lifted sanctions on Iran in return for curbs on its nuclear programme, have reached their final stages with several diplomats saying there was broad agreement.

But just as the final issues were being resolved, Russia presented a new obstacle by demanding written guarantees from the United States that Western sanctions targeting Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine would not affect its trade with Iran.

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