Ukraine invasion complicates Iran nuclear talks

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On Monday, the United States joined in the warning, with State Department spokesman Ned Price telling reporters in Washington that the Biden administration was also “ready to step down if Iran shows evidence.” intransigence to make progress”.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh hit back on Tuesday, warning that Iran could also pull out.

“Iran is ready but won’t wait forever,” he said on his Twitter feed, adding, “A deal is within reach if WH [White House] makes his decision.

“A no-deal outcome is as possible as reaching a potential deal because some of Iran’s minimum requirements are still not met,” Iran’s official IRNA news agency warned.

The threats may simply be part of the inevitable last-minute stalemate that typically accompanies the final hours of negotiations, analysts say. “Negotiations are likely to become more turbulent in the coming days, exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, underscoring that the prospect of failure is real,” Henry Rome wrote in a note for the Eurasia Group.

But the stakes, always high, have been raised by the war in Ukraine, which has shaken Europe’s stability, sent oil prices soaring and raised the specter of nuclear conflict for the first time in more than 30 years. years.

A failure in Vienna would further destabilize the world, risking a new nuclear arms race in the Middle East and possibly another war, analysts say.

“It could be a moment from 1914,” said Ali Vaez of the International Crisis Group.

The concern, he said, is that Iran has been emboldened by the collapse of US-Russia relations and soaring oil prices to push for further concessions, assuming that high oil prices will make Washington more desperate for a deal. . Russia is one of seven parties behind the deal, along with the United States, Britain, France, Germany, China and Iran.

The war in Ukraine pushed the price of oil above $100, hurting consumers in the United States and around the world and putting pressure on politicians. The return to global markets of Iranian oil could lower prices by up to 10%, Vaez said.

After acting on numerous occasions to save the talks from collapse, Russia could also become a mess now that its relations with the West have broken down, said Esfandyar Batmanghelidj of the European Council on Foreign Relations.

Reviving the deal nevertheless continues to make sense for all parties involved, including Russia, he said. Russian Ambassador Mikhail Ulyanov repeatedly told reporters that the war had no impact on the talks. He called it “regrettable but not dramatic” that the talks did not end on Monday.

Negotiators have spent the past 10 months trying to broker an agreement on the terms under which the United States will revert to the nuclear accord brokered by President Barack Obama, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and bring back Iran in compliance. President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the deal and impose tough sanctions on Tehran has prompted Iran to renege on its promises to refrain from enriching uranium.

Iran’s nuclear program has now reached the point where it is just weeks away from achieving a breakthrough, which would mean it has enough enriched uranium to produce a nuclear bomb, diplomats say and experts.

“It’s a really weird situation. A few weeks ago, we were finally at a point where all parties truly believed a deal was within reach. And now the international environment has changed,” said Batmanghelidj, who nevertheless added that he thought a deal was more likely than not.

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