Aug 17, 2022
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On Wednesday, almost a week after Russia invaded Ukraine, it was announced that Russia was part of the negotiations between the US and Iran over its nuclear program.

“Top US and Russian officials for Iran have met in Vienna, a Russian envoy said on Wednesday, and delegates on both sides said Moscow and Washington were coordinating in a bid to salvage the 2015 Iran nuclear deal,” the report said.

After President Trump withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement with Iran in 2018, President Biden undertook to jumpstart negotiations upon entering office and talks with Iran have been going on for ten months. Last week, Mikhail Ulyanov, the Russian negotiator, was posting videos and pictures on Twitter showing the ongoing coordination with the United States, France, Britain, and Germany, adding that there was a “very high probability” of a deal within a week.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has affected the negotiations.

“There’s a good chance that a crisis of this magnitude will pollute not only the Iranian file, but many others,” a French presidential official told Reuters. “This is one of the many subjects on which the relationship with Russia is very severely, very significantly changed by the behavior of President Vladimir Putin.”

“The longer that talks go on, the greater the chance that the conflict intercedes,” said Henry Rome, Iran analyst at consultancy Eurasia.

The original parties of the JCPOA were the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States; plus Germany) plus Germany, hence the term P5+1.

“We’re not doing it as a favour to Russia. Russia is not doing it as a favor to us. We’re working towards a goal that, on this issue, we appear to have a common interest in: reviving the JCPOA,” a senior U.S. State Department official told Reuters.

Both Iran and Russia have a common interest to open up international markets to purchase their oil as prices soar above $100 barrel as both countries are being sanctioned internationally. Ironically, the Biden administration has refused to remove the restrictions on US domestic energy sources.

“These are two separate issues,” a senior Iranian official told Reuters from Tehran.

“Of course time is running out and with what is happening in Ukraine, Russia might get busy with the crisis and then the West will be responsible for the failure of these talks.”

Iran’s foreign ministry said on Monday that “97-98 percent” of a draft agreement is ready but three key issues remain that the West has not agreed with.

While Russia is overseeing negotiations concerning Iran’s nuclear program, Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened to use tactical nuclear weapons in his invasion of Ukraine. The Russian army captured Chernobyl in the initial stages of the invasion and last night attacked Europe’s largest nuclear power plant which is located in Ukraine.