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Iran nuclear talks overcome Russian wrench in gears

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian’s Tuesday visit to Moscow could have played a part in Russia backing down from its original maximalist demands.
Iran nuclear talks at the Grand Hotel on April 15, 2021, in Vienna, Austria.

Anyone hoping for resumed limits on Iran’s nuclear program and resumed Iranian international trade can breathe a sigh of relief that the 2015 accord, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), appears likely soon to be revived. What last week had looked to be a Russian wrench dropped into the gears of negotiations on Tuesday became little more than sand — irritating, but not debilitating — as Moscow apparently backed down from over-reaching demands.

On March 5, in the context of Western sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had insisted that negotiations in Vienna on the JCPOA must protect Russian trade and investment links with Iran. He wanted “guarantees at least at the level of the secretary of state.” Russia’s chief negotiator in the talks, Mikhail Ulyanov, said on March 9 that since negotiations had not concluded, Russia had the right to raise new concerns.

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