Berlin (AP) —Negotiations to return the United States to a groundbreaking nuclear deal with Iran are set to resume in Vienna on Thursday, with signs of progress, but this week to Iran’s main nuclear facility Is exposed to the shadow of the attack.
What is the deal they are talking about?
In 2015, Iran signed an agreement with the United States, Russia, China, Germany, France and the United Kingdom aimed at putting restrictions on Tehran’s nuclear program to prevent Tehran from producing nuclear weapons. did. Do.
In return, Iran received relief from sanctions imposed by these forces, including oil exports and access to the global banking system. Iran has been allowed to continue its nuclear program for private purposes, with strict limits on the amount of uranium it can concentrate on, the purity it can concentrate on, and other measures.
Conservative estimates before the agreement were that Iran was within five to six months of being able to produce bombs, but some were concerned that it would be within a few months. Its “breakout time” was estimated to be more than a year due to trade safeguards in place.
But in 2018, then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from trading and criticized a clause that would gradually ease restrictions on Iran. Eventually, the deal expired, and Iran is its nuclear technology. He also said he needed to renegotiate to address regional impacts such as Iran’s ballistic missile program and the support of militant groups.
Subsequent unfavorable US sanctions hurt Iran’s economy, but failed to bring Tehran back to the table to expand trading as Trump wanted. Instead, Tehran has steadily exceeded the limits set by the agreement to put pressure on the remaining members for financial relief.
In February, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said of Iran’s estimated breakout time, “We’re three to four months old and we’re heading in the wrong direction.”
So what is being discussed now?
US President Joe Biden said he wanted to rejoin the deal, but Iran had to revoke the breach.
The European Union has called for negotiations in the hope of doing just that. The American delegation is in Vienna, but they have not met Iran in person. Instead, diplomats from other countries move back and forth between the two sides.
Iran said it was ready to return to full compliance with the agreement in preparation for the negotiations that began last week, but said the United States would need to withdraw all sanctions initially imposed under Trump.
But it’s complicated. The Trump administration has also added sanctions on Iran other than those related to nuclear programs, including terrorism, allegations of human rights abuses, and national ballistic missile programs.
Still, there are signs of hope. Anise Basili Tabrigi, an Iranian scholar at the Royal Institute of Defense and Security, said the negotiations soon passed the debate about “who goes first” and have already begun to work on it in detail.
“It’s a very good development for these working groups to actually talk and see the core,” she told The Associated Press.
In order for Iran to return to trade, it is necessary to return the uranium enrichment to a purity of 3.67% or less, stop using advanced centrifuges, and significantly reduce the amount of uranium enriched.
Despite the challenges, Tabrizi said future challenges are not as complex as the challenges the group faced in 2015. This is because they already have a contract to reference.
How long does the story take?
There is no specified time frame. Diplomats involved say the problem cannot be resolved overnight, but for several reasons, they want it to be resolved in weeks instead of months.
The initial agreement was reached after Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, who is widely regarded as moderate, took office for the first time. Rouhani was unable to run again in the upcoming June elections due to term restrictions, and he hopes to be able to sell oil abroad again and resign with Iran to gain access to international financial markets. ..
Meanwhile, the United States could face much tougher negotiations if no agreement is reached before Rouhani leaves. Iran’s hardliners reject the nuclear deal, saying it does not provide adequate financial relief and is a slippery slope to further pressure on Iran. Sanam Bakir, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at the Chatham House Policy Institute, said that would not necessarily mean ending negotiations if they were elected, but would complicate matters. It was.
There is another reason to act quickly. In February Iran began restricting inspections of nuclear facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Instead, he said he would keep surveillance footage of the facility for three months and hand it over to the IAEA if sanctions were granted. Otherwise, Iran said it would erase the recording.
What obstacles can get in the way?
Lots, as recent events have shown. Over the weekend, Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility was disrupted. It’s not clear exactly what happened, but the power outage damaged the centrifuge.
Authorities did not comment, but it was widely suspected that the attack was carried out by Israel, which opposes the nuclear deal.
Iran says it explicitly wants Israel to upset negotiations with sabotage. Rouhani said he still hoped the negotiations would bring results, but the attack had complex problems. For one thing, Iran has announced that it will increase uranium enrichment to a much higher purity of 60% than ever before and install more sophisticated centrifuges at its Natanz facility.
And as a result of development, both sides have strengthened their rhetoric.
On Wednesday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final say on all national issues of Islamic republic, rejected all offers so far in Vienna as “not worth seeing”. did. ..
Blinken, meanwhile, said Washington showed its seriousness by attending an indirect talk in Vienna, but in a recent announcement from Tehran, “Iran is still uncertain whether it shares the seriousness of its purpose. Absent”.
The Associated Press writer John Gambrel of Dubai, Matthew Lee of the United Arab Emirates and Brussels contributed to the story.