Tehran, Iran – A majority of Iranian lawmakers suggested that Iran should take advantage of the opportunities provided by instability in global energy markets to push forward its demands in the Vienna nuclear talks.
160 of Iran’s 290 lawmakers signed a statement that was read publicly on Sunday. It said Tehran should not be bound by “fabricated deadlines” by the West and pushed for its demands during talks in the Austrian capital.
“Now that the Ukraine crisis has increased Western demand for Iran’s energy sector, the U.S. demand for lower oil prices cannot be met without considering Iran’s justice demands,” the lawmakers wrote.
They also called for “economic, technological and political” assurances that the United States would not again renege on the country’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, as it did in 2018, and said U.S. sanctions must be lifted effectively and comprehensively.
Less than a month ago, 250 lawmakers signed a statement seeking to maintain dominance by setting strict conditions for resuming the nuclear deal, even as nuclear documents are handled by Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC).
Negotiations to resume the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the deal is officially called, are nearing an end after more than 11 months.
But last week Russia’s last-minute demands for assurances that Western sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine would not affect future deals with Iran cast doubt on the successful conclusion of the talks.
Suspended at Vienna talks
As the coordinator of the Vienna talks, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called for a suspension on Friday due to “external factors” even as the text of the agreement was very close to being finalized.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Syed Khatibzad welcomed the suspension, saying it could provide momentum to resolve remaining issues.
The E3 – France, Germany and the UK – explicitly warned on Saturday that Russian demands could undermine the deal, saying “no one should seek to use the JCPOA negotiations to obtain assurances different from the JCPOA”.
The U.S. also called the request “irrelevant” and said it would not approve it.
Iran, however, refused to blame Russia, saying instead that U.S. demands and delays in political decision-making had stalled talks.
Iran’s security chief Ali Shamkhani said earlier this week that “unreasonable proposals and unreasonable pressure to rush into a deal” showed the United States was not interested in a good deal.
But Russian President Vladimir Putin refuted the statement that day, saying the United States was “ready to reconcile with Iran, sign all documents immediately, and with Venezuela” to control oil prices.
Meanwhile, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani appears to be on a mediation mission to resolve the issue.
Sani spoke Saturday with his Iranian counterpart, Hussein Amirabdullahian, and then spoke with U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on the phone. He is expected to discuss the nuclear deal and Ukraine with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on Sunday.
energy supply, priorities
Energy journalist and analyst Hamidreza Shokouhi said the same negotiating team was undercut by Iranian lawmakers’ argument that negotiators should now prevail in Vienna because of current U.S. energy needs.
“It’s like saying a few months ago that our negotiating team may have dropped some of its demands when the U.S. has no current energy needs, which undermines negotiators who have basically the same idea as lawmakers,” he told Al Jazeera. TV.
Shokouhi said Iranian oil could return to global markets within a few months and would certainly have a significant impact on global supply and prices because the country has both reserves and the infrastructure to extract more.
The analyst said that after the 2016 nuclear deal, Iran used to produce about 4 million barrels per day of crude oil, about half of which was exported, but now produces just over 2.5 million barrels, indicating the potential for increased capacity.
But Shokouhi noted that despite having the world’s second-largest natural gas reserves, the country is currently unable to meet the gas needs of other countries because it uses the vast majority of the gas it produces to increase local demand and cannot immediately ramp up production significantly.
Furthermore, he believes the West will prioritize its concerns about Iran’s nuclear program over its energy needs that it can ultimately provide elsewhere.
“Would the United States make concessions to a nuclear-armed Iran to meet its energy needs? I don’t think so,” he said.
Iran insists its nuclear program is purely peaceful.
The country also reached an agreement last week with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to provide sufficient information on investigations into previously undeclared radioactive material at several locations. If successful, the deal would clear a major hurdle for resuming the nuclear deal.