Iran demanded world powers allow it to resume selling crude oil as negotiations continued Monday on salvaging the 2015 nuclear deal that the Trump administration withdrew from.
Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian shifted the focus of negotiations on economic sanctions and asked for all embargoes on Iranian oil to be lifted. He wants to reach a point “where Iranian oil is being sold easily and without any barriers and its money arrives in Iran’s bank accounts,” Amirabdollahian said while in Tehran. As oil remains the lifeline of the economy, Amirabdollahian said the country wanted to “be able to enjoy full economic concessions under the nuclear deal.”
“Guarantee and verification (of the removal of sanctions) are among topics that we have focused on,” he said.
The eighth round of talks, happening in Vienna, was convened when the Iranian negotiator came back after leaving to consult with the regime’s leaders. Ebrahim Raisi, the president of Iran, wants Western nations to remove sanctions first before moving forward on the nuclear deal.
According to the Iran nuclear agreement, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed in 2015, Iran agreed to dismantle its nuclear program and allow international inspectors access to nuclear sites in the country. Iran signed the JCPOA with China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Germany.
President Trump in 2018 withdrew the United States from the pact, citing failure from the Iranian leadership to uphold critical requirements as it bolstered military prowess. In 2017, the Islamic regime announced a 150 percent increase in its military budget and Trump criticized it for funding terror groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Houthis.
Moreover, Israeli intelligence had uncovered secret documents that revealed Iran had never stopped developing nuclear weapons.
Trump’s sanctions had a severe effect on the Iranian economy, leading to popular uprisings against the regime and international oil companies canceling deals with Tehran. Crude exports dropped from almost 2.8 million barrels per day (bpd) to as low as 200,000 bpd.
President Joe Biden has claimed that he will return to the JCPOA agreement, signed during the Obama-era, as long as Iran keeps up its end of the deal.
As for current negotiations, European diplomats are reportedly getting tired of the constant delays and Iran’s noncompliance, and expressed concerns for a timely successful conclusion of the ongoing talks.
“If we work hard in the days and weeks ahead, we should have a positive result,” Enrique Mora, the European Union diplomat who chaired the talks, said after the opening session. But “it’s going to be very hard—difficult political decisions have to be taken.”
Iran has now apparently enriched uranium to 60 percent purity, 20 to 30 percent below the purity needed for building weapons, although the country insists it will use the materials only for peaceful purposes.
“Our targets related to enriching uranium are meeting our industrial and production needs … and those of our people,” Atomic Energy Organization of Iran director Mohammad Eslami said on Saturday, insisting that Iran will not cross the 60 percent mark even if the talks in Vienna fail.
Regional powers like Israel are wary of Iran’s intentions. Foreign Minister Yair Lapid of Israel has repeatedly claimed that Iran will not possess a nuclear weapon as it would prove to be an existential threat to the Jewish state.
“Certainly we prefer to act through international cooperation, but if necessary—we will defend ourselves, by ourselves,” Lapid said on Monday.
Iran has also adamantly refused to meet directly with U.S. officials, which further complicates and delays the process of negotiations.