Iran rules out prospect for interim agreement

January 22, 2022 - 20:58

TEHRAN – Iran has once again ruled out any prospect of hammering out an interim agreement with the United States in Vienna, underlining that such a deal would stop short of securing its interests. 

Despite progress made in talks in Vienna, speculations about an interim agreement have come to the surface again. On Saturday, NBC News reported that Russia proposed to Iran an interim agreement with U.S. knowledge that would see Iran scaling back some of its nuclear activities in exchange for getting limited sanctions relief. 

According to NBC News, the proposed agreement stipulates that Iran stops enriching uranium up to 60 percent and puts restrictions on enrichment at 20 percent and its advanced centrifuges. In exchange, Iran would receive some $10 billion in sanctions relief from unfrozen assets in South Korea, Japan and Iraq. The agreement had a six-month duration, with the option to extend after it expired, NBC News claimed. 

Iran rejected the proposal outright. “Iran seeks a reliable but also durable agreement that is consistent with the promises made in the JCPOA, and any agreement that does not meet these two criteria is not on the agenda for us,” NBC News quoted Iran’s mission to the United Nations as saying in a statement on Friday. 

Also, Fars News rejected the alleged interim agreement. Citing a source close to the Vienna talks, Fars News said, “At present, there is no question of an interim agreement in the Vienna talks, and the Iranian delegation is focused on reaching a lasting and definitive agreement.”

This is not the first time the interim agreement is being touted by Western and non-Western media outlets. Last year in November, Axios claimed that National security adviser Jake Sullivan raised with his Israeli counterpart the idea of an interim agreement with Iran to buy more time for nuclear negotiations.

Two weeks ago, the London-based Rai Al-Youm online newspaper floated a similar allegation, saying an interim agreement was reached in Vienna that would last for two years. A source familiar with the talks rejected this allegation in remarks to Fars News at the time. 


Right from the start, Iran said it will not accept any interim deal and that the only option on the table is reviving the 2015 nuclear deal, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The main reason for Iran to reject the idea of an interim deal seems to be a deep-rooted Iranian distrust of the U.S. honoring its commitments. “The interim deal is a code name designed by the Biden administration to evade fulfillment of JCPOA commitments while at the same time notching up a dramatic achievement within the framework of Democrats' slogans in the 2020 presidential election,” wrote Nour News, a website close to Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, in reaction to the NBC News report.

If true, the interim deal would be the latest effort on the part of the Biden administration to delay discussing such thorny issues as guarantees and verification measures that are now stymieing the talks. 

Iran’s rejection of the Russian-brokered interim agreement has been portrayed as representing a schism between Tehran and Moscow. But some observers believe it should by no means be seen as such. Analysts believe that the rejection of the deal should be put in the broader context of the U.S unwillingness to fully return to the original deal and that the rejection of the provisional deal has nothing to do with interactions between Iran and Russia. The interim agreement has been floated after the U.S. refused to show flexibility in terms of fully returning to the JCPOA in the first place. 


 
 

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