No new deal on Iran nuclear program possible, no alternative to JCPOA: Top Russia negotiator

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Russia's Ambassador to international organizations in Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov

Russia’s lead negotiator at the Vienna talks on the revival of a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major world powers says it is not possible to reach a new agreement on the Iranian nuclear program.

In an interview with Russian newspaper Izvestia, Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s Permanent Ambassador to International Organizations in Vienna, said there is no alternative to the restoration of the nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in its original form.

He noted that the Vienna talks on the JCPOA revival would resume after the inauguration of the new administration in Iran, saying the exact date of the resumption of the negotiations is still unknown.

The senior Russian diplomat emphasized that the new Iranian administration is likely to adjust the country’s position on some issues within the deal.

“We do not know what changes in Iranian approaches may occur, taking into account the coming to power of a new president, the formation of a new government," Ulyanov said.

He added, "It cannot be ruled out that the views of the Iranian side on some of the issues discussed in Vienna will undergo adjustments. We do not know anything about this yet."

At the same time, the diplomat said the longer Iran will move away from negotiations and fulfillment of its commitments as per the JCPOA in its original form, the longer the country will be under sanctions from Western states.

Ebrahim Raeisi is scheduled to take an oath of office as Iran’s new president on Thursday.

The JCPOA was reached between Iran and six world powers, including the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China.

The deal was ditched by former US President Donald Trump in 2018 in spite of Iran’s full compliance with its contractual obligations.

Washington then began to put enormous pressure on Iran through sanctions, in what it called a “maximum pressure” policy, in order to force Tehran to negotiate a “better deal.”

Now President Joe Biden, who was the vice president of the United States when the deal was inked, has promised to re-enter the JCPOA and abandon Trump’s “failed” maximum pressure campaign. His administration has, however, failed to take a palpable measure to that goal.  

The Vienna talks began in early April with the aim of reviving the JCPOA by bringing all original parties, especially the US, back into compliance with the deal, three years after Washington withdrew from the accord and tried to sabotage it.

So far, six rounds of negotiations have been held in the Austrian capital, as a result of which, according to participants, “significant progress” has been made in the course of the “constructive” and “businesslike” talks.

However, disagreements have persisted over a number of issues, including how to sequence the US sanctions removal, with Tehran arguing that since Washington was the party that violated the terms of the agreement, it should take the first step back into compliance with the deal by removing its unilateral sanctions.

In a tweet on Friday, Ulyanov said the Vienna negotiations aim to restore the JCPOA in its original form, nothing more and nothing less.

He urged all the parties to the JCPOA not to deviate from the main objective of the Vienna talks and to stop efforts to add something new to the deal.

His tweet came after Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on Wednesday, during the Leader’s last meeting with the outgoing Iranian administration’s officials, warned of the West’s intention to use the JCPOA to enable interference in the Iranian affairs.

The Leader cited the administration’s experience of dealing with the West on the issue of the nuclear agreement as an important case in point that had clearly shown “trust in the West does not work and will not work [in the future either].”

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