(Bloomberg) — Iran said the 2015 nuclear deal is alive but lingering in the “emergency room,” with its fate resting on a decision by the U.S. that could lift sanctions on Tehran’s economy and oil exports.
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Saeed Khatibzadeh, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman, told reporters the Islamic Republic had finalized all the details needed to revive the landmark accord with other world powers involved in stalled negotiations in Vienna.
But he said the U.S. had yet to take a decision on the latest Iranian proposal for how to resolve the standoff over remaining issues between the two countries, which include a Trump-era terrorism designation for Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
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“We haven’t reached the point yet where the U.S. side has shown the will to return to its own obligations under the nuclear deal and the related United Nations resolution,” Khatibzadeh said. Washington must reverse all of the Trump administration’s measures against Iran, imposed as part of its “maximum pressure” strategy, he said.
While the terrorism listing isn’t formally part of the nuclear deal, Tehran has insisted it must be removed in order for the pact to be revived.
Diplomats paused their negotiations last month after Russia inserted new conditions related to western sanctions imposed on Moscow over its war on Ukraine. The Kremlin later backed down, but Tehran and Washington remain deadlocked, especially over the designation of the Guard as a foreign terrorist organization made by then-President Donald Trump.
Reversing that decision could be politically perilous for the Biden administration in an election year, with substantial opposition in both American parties.
Reviving the 2015 deal would ease sanctions on Iran and trigger the return of its crude oil to markets at a time of unprecedented volatility in fuel markets because of Russia’s attack on Ukraine and the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic on supply and demand.
The nuclear accord unraveled after Trump renounced it and reimposed sanctions almost four years ago. Iran responded by escalating its uranium enrichment well beyond limits set by the accord. The confrontation fueled conflicts in the Middle East and a series of attacks on shipping in waterways key for global trade.
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Gulf Arab governments and Israel opposed the agreement, arguing it failed to address worries over the Islamic Republic’s ballistic missile capabilities or its support for militias including Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Yemen’s Houthi fighters.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited the region last month for talks that included those concerns. American officials said the revival of the atomic accord, also signed by China, Russia, France, Germany and the U.K., wasn’t “imminent.”
(Updates with quote in fourth paragraph and context.)
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