Iran Says Nuclear Negotiators Close To Agreement – Remaining Barriers “Not Unsolvable”
Iran now says that remaining contested issues between it and the United States are “not unsolvable” and that all parties appear in agreement on this point at a moment the latest round of talks in Vienna are wrapping up. The Islamic Republic’s deputy foreign minister and chief negotiator Abbas Araghchi told state TV on Wednesday that of nuclear issues which remain, presumably including the dropping of US sanctions, they “have reached a point where everyone believes that they’re not unsolvable.”
“All the delegations are determined and there is full seriousness” he added, while also noting Wednesday’s meeting will decide a “return date” for talks, also as after last week it was widely reported that draft documents were being finalized, suggesting a deal which includes US reentry into the JCPOA is imminent.
“I do not think there will be much delay between today’s meeting and the next round of talks. Like in the previous rounds, we will probably return to Vienna after consulting with our capitals,” Araqchi observed further. Reviewing the format of the talks an ‘indirect’ nature of Washington’s negotiating involvement, Reuters writes that “Such meetings of the remaining parties – Iran, Russia, China, France, Britain, Germany and the European Union – in a format known as the Joint Commission have punctuated and bookended indirect talks between Iran and the United States on both countries returning to full compliance with the 2015 deal.”
“The EU chairs Joint Commission meetings in the basement of a luxury hotel and leads shuttle diplomacy between Iranian envoys and a U.S. delegation based in another luxury hotel across the road. Iran refuses to hold direct talks with Washington,” the report details.
Despite the optimistic reports of major progress of late, the big geopolitical wildcard which puts a question mark over the whole proceedings is Israel and an embattled prime minister on his way out politically who just days ago vowed that “containment” of a nuclear armed Iran “is not an option”. PM Netanyahu further said:
“I’ve told this to my friend for 40 years, Joe Biden, and I said to him, ‘With or without a deal, we will continue to do everything in our power to thwart the armament of Iran with nuclear weapons.’“
And interestingly also on Wednesday there was the mysterious sinking of Iran’s largest warship, the Kharg, which caught fire in the Gulf of Oman and sank.
The Fars and Tasnim news agencies reported that efforts to save the Kharg (after the island where Iran’s main oil terminal sits), were a failure. The fire started around 0225 local time roughly 1,270 kilometers (790 miles) southeast of Tehran in the Gulf of Oman, not far from the Strait of Hormuz, where several Saudi oil tankers have been attacked in recent years (the US Navy accused the Iranians of using limpet mines to carry out these attacks).
The question remains: are we seeing an emboldened Netanyahu with nothing to lose politically (and much to gain as the ‘national security hawk’) ordering covert action to sink the positive momentum in Vienna?
Wed, 06/02/2021 – 15:02
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