– Washington ready for “tough decisions” to save the agreement
The US could agree to remove the Revolutionary Guards from the US blacklist to save the Iran nuclear deal.
The United States said on Monday that it was “ready to make difficult decisions” to save the agreement aimed at preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, while stressing that it was also preparing for a possible failure of the negotiations. France, co-signatory of the agreement, for its part insisted on the “urgency” to conclude because of the major advances in the Iranian nuclear program.
According to a source familiar with the matter, Tehran is demanding the removal of the Revolutionary Guards — the ideological army of the Iranian Islamic Republic — from the US blacklist of “foreign terrorist organizations”, and this demand is one of the last obstacles to a compromise to resurrect this 2015 agreement.
Asked about this, the spokesman for the American diplomacy Ned Price refused to detail “which sanctions we are ready or not to lift”. But “we are ready to make difficult decisions to bring the Iranian nuclear program back within its limits” established by the Vienna agreement of 2015, he assured, while Israel and the American right are alarmed by a removal of the “Guardians” from this very symbolic blacklist.
The Iran nuclear deal had lifted economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for clear restrictions on its nuclear activities to ensure, under international supervision, that they remained strictly civilian and peaceful. But under the presidency of Donald Trump, who found it insufficient, the United States left the agreement in 2018 and reinstated its sanctions.
In response, Tehran has freed itself from the key limits to its atomic program. Since the arrival of Joe Biden at the White House last year, negotiations have been underway in Vienna to save this agreement, by lifting American sanctions against an Iranian return in the nails of the text.
“There has been significant progress in recent weeks, but I want to make it clear that an agreement is neither imminent nor certain,” said Ned Price, as if to temper the optimism that had prevailed since the beginning of March among the negotiators.
“We are preparing in the same way for all scenarios, with or without mutual return to full respect” of the agreement, he warned. “President Biden has made a commitment that Iran, while in power, will not be allowed to possess a nuclear weapon, and that commitment is real and strong, whether with the deal or without. OK.”
Ned Price clarified that the American negotiator Rob Malley had not yet returned to Vienna since the break decided ten days ago in the talks. “In the past, we have seen that Iranian negotiators used to take a break during the Nowruz holidays”, the Iranian New Year celebrated on Sunday, added the spokesperson without being able to say when the discussions would resume.
During a telephone interview with his American counterpart Antony Blinken, the head of French diplomacy Jean-Yves Le Drian for his part “mentioned the urgency of finalizing discussions on the Vienna agreement without delay”.