Tags: Iran | iran | sanctions | oil | russia | france

Iran in Talks With Russia, France to Ease Nuke Sanctions

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (Pavel Golovkin/AP)

Monday, 02 September 2019 06:47 AM

Iran is ramping up negotiations as signs gather that it’s closer to ending a showdown with Europe over the wobbling 2015 nuclear deal and easing a security crisis in the Persian Gulf.

Iran's top envoy Mohammad Javad Zarif arrived in Moscow for talks with counterpart Sergei Lavrov as the threat of another erosion of Iran's compliance with the accord looms. His deputy Abbas Araghchi was headed at the same time to Paris with a team of economists and central bank officials to discuss a French proposal to help restore Iran's oil exports, the backbone of its economy.

Araghchi will be making his second trip to Paris in less than six weeks, continuing the most substantive negotiations between Iran and a Western power since U.S. President Donald Trump exited the nuclear accord last year and slapped a slew of crippling sanctions on Iranian oil and other sectors. Talks related to the agreement were also underway in Vienna, Zarif's spokesman Abbas Mousavi said, without giving more details.

According to an Iranian lawmaker, the French proposal — hammered out in hours of telephone negotiations between Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and French President Emmanuel Macron, and at a recent meeting with Zarif — includes a $15 billion credit line to Iran for oil "pre-purchases," the semi-official Tasnim news reported, citing an interview with conservative lawmaker Ali Motahari.

France has suggested the money be paid in three installments and in return, Iran would lift its threat to ramp up atomic activities on Sept. 6 and eventually revert back to full compliance with the accord, Motahari said.

"Iran's and France's points of view have grown closer," Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei told reporters at a news conference in Tehran, adding that Iran was "moving forward and advancing" in its efforts to resolve the crisis through talks.

Araghchi said Saturday that discussions between Trump and Macron at the Group of Seven summit last week "have shown flexibility with regard to Iran’s oil," according to the semi-official Iranian Students' News Agency. Trump said at the meeting in Biarritz that he'd agree to have other countries extend a letter of credit to Iran, secured against oil sales.

The U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal in May 2018 and crippling sanctioning of Iran's economy triggered a security crisis that has rocked the Persian Gulf region with tanker attacks, tit-for-tat vessel seizures and the downing of military drones.

Washington's actions also left Europe scrambling for an effective way to keep the deal alive without running afoul of U.S. sanctions. Iran's key demand is for European powers to resume purchases of Iranian oil.

"Tehran will be extremely cautious about what Europeans can deliver on their own without a U.S. green light," said Ellie Geranmayeh, senior policy fellow and deputy head of the Middle East and North Africa program at the European Council on Foreign Relations. "But for now at least, given Trump’s messaging at the G-7, it seems the French have got the U.S. green light on pushing forward with the economic package they have been discussing with the Iranians."

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Iran is ramping up negotiations as signs gather that it's closer to ending a showdown with Europe over the wobbling 2015 nuclear deal and easing a security crisis in the Persian Gulf.
iran, sanctions, oil, russia, france
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2019-47-02
Monday, 02 September 2019 06:47 AM
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