Tehran, Iran – Iran has said it has new ideas to restore its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers after the European Union’s coordinator proposed what seems to be a final text to reach an agreement.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Tuesday that he had proposed a text to restore the landmark accord, which the United States unilaterally abandoned in 2018.
“This text represents the best possible deal that I, as facilitator of the negotiations, see as feasible. It is not a perfect agreement, but it addresses all essential elements and includes hard-won compromises by all sides,” he wrote in an article for the Financial Times.
“Decisions need to be taken now,” he warned, adding that he sees “no other comprehensive or effective alternative within reach”.
Hours later, Iran’s chief negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani wrote in a tweet that Iran has its own ideas to conclude the negotiations “both in substance and form”, which will be shared.
He did not elaborate on the nature or timeline of sharing the proposals, but in recent months, Iranian officials have been emphasising that they want a sustainable agreement and guarantees that Iran will enjoy the full economic benefits it was promised under the original deal.
Talks in Vienna to restore the deal began in April 2021, but have stalled in recent months amid disagreements between Tehran and Washington, which also held an unsuccessful two-day round of indirect negotiations in Qatar last month.
In his article, Borrell wrote that the text currently available “reflects the determination” of all parties to ensure its sustainability, resulting in a deal that is better protected against potential future unilateral moves as the next US presidential election looms in 2024.
“If the deal is rejected, we risk a dangerous nuclear crisis, set against the prospect of increased isolation for Iran and its people,” he wrote.
Former US President Donald Trump imposed comprehensive sanctions on Tehran that are now imposed by President Joe Biden, who has promised to ramp up his predecessor’s “maximum pressure” campaign even further if the deal is not restored.
Known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the accord put stringent curbs on Iran’s nuclear programme in exchange for lifting US, EU and United N sanctions.
Russian President, Vladimir Putin, arrived in Tehran last week for the second time since he ordered the invasion of Ukraine on 24 February. Just before his arrival, Russia’s state gas giant, Gazprom, signed a US$40 billion memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) that is part of a wide-ranging agenda of increased cooperation between Russia and Iran. It builds upon ideas discussed in January between Putin and Iranian President, Ebrahim Raisi, and the visit early in June of Russian Deputy Prime Minister, Alexander Novak, both analysed in full by OilPrice.com, and is crucial to the current global gas crisis.
Among other deals contained in the MoU, Gazprom has pledged its full assistance to the NIOC in the US$10 billion development of the Kish and North Pars gas fields with a view to their producing more than 10 million cubic metres of gas per day. The MoU also contains details of a US$15 billion project to increase pressure in the supergiant South Pars gas field on the maritime border between Iran and Qatar. Gazprom will additionally be involved in the completion of various liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects and the construction of gas export pipelines, according to Iranian news sources.
This is designed by the Kremlin to give it even more control over future gas supplies coming out of Iran that might have found a home in southern Europe initially, before being transported north, to help alleviate the current gas supply crunch in major European countries. By also becoming more deeply involved in the huge South Pars gas field Russia has also positioned itself to disrupt LNG supplies coming out of Qatar and destined for Europe. The South Pars field is a 3,700 square kilometre area of the world’s largest gas reservoir that holds at least 1,800 trillion cubic feet of gas and at least 50 billion barrels of natural gas condensates, with the remaining 6,000 square kilometre North Field site belonging to Qatar. This takes on even broader geopolitical importance, given the ongoing interest of Russian and Iranian sponsor, China, in the perennially-controversial Phase 11 of the South Pars gas site.
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