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U.S. does not negotiate Ukrainian sanctions with Russia to save Iran’s nuclear deal

The United States did not negotiate an exemption from Ukraine-related sanctions against Russia to save Iran’s nuclear deal in 2015, and instead sought to conclude an alternative agreement to exclude Russia if the Kremlin did not retreat from last-minute demands. increase. State Department officials said.

As one of Biden’s foreign policy’s most important goals is jeopardized, U.S. officials withdraw a request for a written guarantee that exempts Russia from Ukraine-related sanctions that constrain Moscow’s future trade with Iran. Said it would take a week. A series of western penalties have been leveled in Russia over the invasion of Ukraine.

“There is no room beyond the scope of JCPOA,” a senior US official said, referring to the 2015 nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Please say that there is no room for further exemption. “

Former President Donald Trump closed the deal in 2018 and imposed widespread sanctions for failing to block the path to Iran’s nuclear weapons. In response, Iran expanded its nuclear work and violated most of the limits of the agreement.

Officials said the agreement between Iran and the United States was “within reach” and only a few issues remained when negotiations in Vienna were suspended on Friday due to Russia’s request. Said that. It is an obstacle to closing a transaction. “

European officials say Russia has promised to meet the exact request for warranty in the next few days. US officials said Washington “needs to be considered very quickly” if Russia pushes a warranty request or does not respond “next week.” Alternate path. “

Earlier this month, as Western diplomats sought to conclude the negotiations, Russia demanded assurance that its activities under the JCPOA would be exempt from Western sanctions against Ukraine.

But after Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergeĭ Viklov told reporters that Moscow wanted a wider guarantee, Vienna’s chief negotiator Mikhail Ulyanov told European negotiators on Tuesday from Ukrainian sanctions to the future. He submitted a second paper calling for the protection of all trade and investment.

Russia’s chief negotiator in Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov, said his country’s demands were not the only reason for the lack of agreement.


Photo:

Christian Bruna / Shutterstock

It could not be determined whether Iran was willing to negotiate an alternative agreement without Russia or if China approaching Russia would participate. European officials also said they were ready to consider an alternative agreement with Iran on Friday. Russia.

Mr Yuryanov said Friday that it was his right to express concern because the negotiations were not over, not just his own demands, as the reason for not reaching an agreement to revive the nuclear deal.

Time is approaching. U.S. and European officials say Iran’s nuclear program is nearing the point where the main benefit of the Western agreement to keep Iran away from storing enough nuclear fuel for nuclear weapons for months is no longer possible. Says. A few weeks after that so-called breakout point.

The United States is also looking for new oil supplies during the war in Ukraine with the aim of curbing soaring energy prices. If sanctions are lifted, Iran could eventually supply up to 1 million barrels of new crude oil per day.

One option for the United States and its partners is to freeze some of Iran’s activities and create a tentative agreement that could rewind aspects of the nuclear program in exchange for some relief from US sanctions. That is. Provisional transaction.

Another option would be to create what US officials called a “JCPOA replica” without Russia, which would assign Moscow’s mission in an agreement elsewhere.

“I think we’ll accept a variety of options. We’re starting to think about what they are. We … don’t rule out anything at this point,” officials said.

Iran said it launched a missile near Erbil in Iraq on Sunday when the United States has a consulate.


Photo:

AZAD LASHKARI / REUTERS

Further complicating attempts to restructure transactions with Iran: Tehran refused to let negotiators talk directly to the United States until Washington lifted sanctions. He landed near the US Consulate under construction in Iran and northern Iraq.

The New Deal will also trigger US law that gives Congress time for a detailed review of the agreement.

The negotiations in Vienna, which have been going on for nearly a year, aim to agree on the steps the United States and Iran will take to return to compliance with the nuclear agreement. If Russia’s request could be resolved, negotiators said they could come back. Negotiations will be completed in Vienna within a few days.

Iran has avoided calling on Russia and continues to blame the failure to complete the talks in Washington, but there are signs of frustration from Iranian officials saying external factors will not interfere with their interests. there were.

U.S. officials did not say whether an agreement had ever been reached without Russian intervention. The question remains whether Iran’s Revolutionary Guards will remove their list of foreign terrorist organizations and what the conditions are around them. Western diplomats say.

In a video message, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused the mayor of southern Melitopol’s kidnapping by Russian troops. On Saturday, a new round of Russian airstrikes struck the outskirts of Kib.Photo: Dimitar Dilkoff / AFP / Getty Images

Write to Lawrence Norman (laurence.norman@wsj.com)

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