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Returning to Nuclear Agreement Hinges on ‘Regional’ Concessions from Iran

Returning to Nuclear Agreement Hinges on ‘Regional’ Concessions from Iran

Sunday, 12 September, 2021 - 10:45
A Russian worker walks past the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran, October 26, 2010. (Reuters)

Western diplomats are awaiting opportunities to return to the nuclear agreement, especially in wake of reports that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is leaning towards condemning Tehran for preventing the agency’s inspectors from monitoring Iran’s nuclear facilities.

However, two visits to Moscow last week by the US special envoy to Iran Robert Malley and Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid may lead to one of the two following outcomes: either the return to the Vienna negotiations, according to an agreed-upon agenda with Russia, or the search for “other options,” according to statements made by US President Joe Biden following his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the White House.

Nonetheless, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made a noteworthy statement that his country was committed to “guaranteeing Israel’s security” and that it would not accept the use of Syrian territory as a platform to threaten its security, despite his emphasis on not turning Syria into an arena of conflict between other countries.

For his part, the Israeli minister threatened to act against Iran “if the world fails to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons,” adding that the world needed an alternative plan to confront it.

Moscow had earlier described the visit of the US envoy as good, and called on Iran for an immediate return to the Vienna negotiations.

However, US circles said that the position of the US administration referred to new “concessions” in exchange for Iranian compromises that are not related to the nuclear agreement.

The problem does no longer lie in the agreement, but in regional files, amid an active role by France and Russia to overcome some of them. This was reflected by the Russian-Israeli agreement to form a “military mechanism” to resolve their differences, and to prevent “the stationing of Iranian bases near the borders of Israel,” in addition to the recent events in Daraa, which point to a renewed Russian commitment to return to implementing the 2018 agreement.

The formation of the Lebanese government also comes as a result of the French effort with Iran, in light of Washington’s non-objection to the entry of gas and electricity through Syria to Lebanon and the arrival of Iranian oil.

“If the United States does not present a resolution at the IAEA meeting to punish [Tehran] for violating agreements with it, Malley’s visit to Moscow will be in Iran’s interest,” said Richard Goldberg, a senior advisor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a former director of Iran’s accountability at the National Security Council.

“Biden and his team were very careful to avoid implying that they would consider any military option,” he added.

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