11 months into negotiations to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said Iran “has not and will not back down on any… red lines” in the negotiations, per the semi-official Fars news agency in Iran. According to Fars, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian had a similar message in a phone call with European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.
The 2015 nuclear deal lifted sanctions on Iran in return for curbs on its nuclear program. In 2018, former President Donald Trump walked out of the deal and reimposed sanctions. Iran wants those sanctions gone as well as a guarantee that the United States won’t abandon the deal again.
“The government pursues nuclear negotiations in full accordance with the principles and framework set by the Supreme Leader,” Raisi said. He is referring to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say in Iran’s decision regarding to the nuclear deal.
Diplomats have said several differences still need to be overcome. One of these involves a last-minute demand from Russia. Russia asked for a guarantee from the United States that Russian trade, investment and military-technical cooperation with Iran would not be hindered by sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine.
“Peaceful nuclear cooperation between Iran and Russia and China and other countries obviously should not be limited or affected by any sanction,” Saeed Khatibzadeh, a spokesperson for Iran’s foreign ministry, said Monday. “So far Russia has shown a constructive approach for reaching a collective agreement in Vienna, and we interpret what they say in this framework.”
Speaking at a meeting with Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kalla Tuesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken did not appear to be concerned about Russia’s place in the Iran nuclear deal negotiations. He said Russia “has its own interests in ensuring that Iran is not able to acquire a nuclear weapon.”