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Iran denies impasse in nuclear deal diplomacy

Even as a break from Vienna talks over the revival of the Iran nuclear deal continues to linger, Tehran said communication was still in progress with the American side.  
Iran nuclear

Diplomacy over the revival of the Iran nuclear deal is still being maintained, Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian declared, while a holdup in the multilateral negotiations enters a third month.

In an interview with the Yemeni TV channel Al-Masirah on May 3, the Iranian top diplomat noted that Tehran and Washington are still exchanging "written messages" conveyed by a European go-between. 

Up until the first week of March, the two sides were engaged in indirect talks in Vienna, attended also by participants from the UK, France, Germany, China and Russia, all signatories to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The talks, however, appeared to have hit a deadlock due to what the Western sides blamed on Russian demands to drop sanctions linked to the Ukraine war.

Despite the weeks-long pause, the Iranian foreign minister stressed that he still sought "a robust and lasting agreement," as he reasserted his earlier request for the US administration to be "realistic." Amir-Abdollahian suggested that the Iranian agenda in the talks remains unchanged. Tehran not only wants US sanctions entirely and verifiably lifted, but it does also doggedly push for non-departure guarantees in an attempt to pre-empt a repeat of the 2018 US withdrawal from the accord by former President Donald Trump.

"I believe the Americans are clear about Iran's red lines," Amir-Abdollahian told the Arabic-language news network, which is linked to Tehran-backed Shiite Houthi rebels. The Iranian minister did not elaborate on those red lines, but on other occasions, both Tehran and Washington have implied that the thorny issue of sanctions targeting Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has slowed down the talks if not torpedoed a potential agreement. 

Tehran has specifically haggled for the IRGC to be taken off the US list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations, which still appears to be a far-fetched goal for the Islamic Republic.

During the recent hiatus, the major powers have not ruled out slim chances of success toward resurrecting the deal. Yet the previous optimism about an accord around the corner also seems to have faded away.

Four Western diplomats familiar with the latest in the talks were cited in a Reuters analysis on Monday, as saying that their governments were losing hopes for a resurrected deal though not yet "pulling the plug." The possibility of an insurmountable impasse was also raised by one senior US official if Tehran continues to dig in its heels over the IRGC delisting, a demand which the source described as "extraneous."

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