Vienna talks to re-instate the 2015 JCPOA nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers (MEES, 5 November 2021) have entered their eighth round. The US says “modest progress” has been made, and Iran has hailed “good progress” but any final deal still looks far off. French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told parliament on 11 January that talks were too slow and may not lead to a final agreement “within a realistic timeframe.”

While there has been some speculation of an interim deal which would fall short of the JCPOA, Iran is adamant that any deal must immediately end restrictions on exports, including key oil exports, and the lifting of post-2018 sanctions. Iran’s Foreign Ministry on 10 January rejected an interim deal, saying any agreement must be “sustainable and reliable.” The Islamic Republic wants assurances that future US administrations won’t exit the deal as President Trump’s did in 2018, whilst no new sanctions “under any new label” are imposed, Iranian officials tell Reuters. Such demands look futile. (CONTINUED - 181 WORDS)