European delegations meet Iran’s chief negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani in Vienna on Jan 22, 2022. (ISNA)

August 17, 2022

Iran made a counteroffer to the European Union’s “final” draft to renew the 2015 nuclear deal at midnight on Monday, the deadline set by Brussels.

Mohammad Marandi, a spokesperson for Iran’s nuclear negotiating team, tweeted on Tuesday that Tehran “wants to make sure that if the current or future US president withdraws from a deal, the US will ‘have to pay a price.’”

“This is the best way to protect a potential deal,” Marandi added. “If the US doesn’t have to pay a price for violating or leaving a future deal, history will repeat itself.”

Earlier, Marandi told Al Jazeera Arabic, “I can’t say there will be a deal, but we’re closer than we’ve been before.”

Iran’s response, as one diplomatic source put it, was a “yes, but,” rather than keeping with the EU’s “take it or leave it” formulation. Tehran essentially responded to the EU’s deadline by trying to extend it and continue negotiations, the source said.

In addition to guarantees from the US, the Islamic Republic did not mention its demand for the International Atomic Energy Agency to cancel its investigations into traces of nuclear material found at undeclared sites in Iran. The EU draft states that if Iran gives credible responses as to the origin of those traces by the time the nuclear deal is meant to be implemented, then it will not oppose the probe’s closure.

Tehran did not reject or accept that offer in its response, according to diplomatic sources.

What do the US, Iran think?

US Special Envoy to Iran Rob Malley seemed to allow for the compromise in the EU draft, saying in an interview on Friday that the probes “will be closed when Iran provides the technically credible answers that the IAEA has requested of them… but not before.”

The State Department said it received Iran’s comments via the EU and will share its views with Brussels.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian warned earlier on Monday that Iran was “looking for a good, stable and strong agreement, but if the other party talks about plan B, we also have plan B.”

Iran is “waiting for the flexibility of the American side [on]… guarantees,” Amir-Abdollahian said. He later added, in that vein, that the nuclear deal “has flaws like any other document, but the main flaw is that in the verification field, our commitments are fully investigated, but regarding the cancellation of sanctions, verification of the other party’s commitments is not very common.”

The 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for limitations on its nuclear program. These limitations would expire over time, ending in 2030, with restrictions on the manufacture of advanced centrifuges expiring next year. The Trump administration left the deal in 2018, opting for more sanctions instead, and the Biden administration began negotiating a return to the JCPOA early last year.

The EU, which coordinates the indirect talks between Iran and the US, tabled a draft for a revived nuclear deal earlier this month that it said was final, and that recent negotiations in Vienna were meant to deal with its technical aspects.

The Jerusalem Post

About Track Persia

Track Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.