Iran Nuclear Talks Update 3/2

    • The 8th and supposedly final round of Iranian nuclear talks continued on Wednesday, March 2, in Vienna.
    • Reports suggest that little has changed over the last few days of negotiations, as the three major sticking points in the negotiation from Monday – safeguards, the scope of sanctions, and economic guarantees – remain outstanding.
    • Former U.S. State Department official Gabriel Noronha released what his sources claim are details of the extensive sanctions relief – far beyond what is required under the initial JCPOA agreement – that the Biden administration has offered Tehran for rejoining the nuclear deal. The new deal will allegedly exceed the JCPOA by granting sanctions relief to key political and economic pillars of the regime, including:
      • Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commanders such as:
        • Mohsen Rezaei and Ali Akbar Velayati, who were involved in the 1994 AMIA bombing that killed 85 people in Argentina;
        • IRGC Brigadier General Hossein Dehghan, who led IRGC forces in Lebanon and Syria when Hezbollah bombed the U.S. Marines compound in Beirut and killed 241 U.S. servicemembers in 1983.
      • The Central Bank of Iran and the National Development Fund
      • Iranian Bonyads – “opaque, quasi-official organizations generally controlled by current and former government officials and clerics that report directly to the Supreme Leader.“
        • Astan Quds Razavi and Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order
        • Bonyad Mostazafan, a massive conglomerate that systematically confiscated property from Jews and Bahai’s after 1979.
      • The National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) and the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC).
    • While Iran has consistently demanded the United States lift the IRGC’s foreign terrorism designation – a measure which does not contravene the JCPOA – reportedly the Biden administration “proposed to the Iranians that the U.S. will remove the IRGC from the Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) list & sanctions if the Iranians simply promise to talk to the United States in new negotiations about their ‘regional activity’.”
      • The Iranian delegation reportedly refused this offer, sticking to its red line that it will not negotiate over its regional activities, including its missile programs.
    • Malley is also reportedly set to release $7 billion in funds frozen in South Korean banks in a deal to release four America hostages from jail in Iran.
    • Iran also demands the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) shut down, as part of a renewed nuclear deal, a separate ongoing inquiry into suspected undeclared Iranian efforts to build a nuclear weapon, but France, Britain, Germany and the United States reportedly do not accept Iran’s demands.
      • Today, IAEA Director General (DG) Rafael Grossi elaborated his agency’s position on the matter, stating, “The IAEA will never abandon a process that it launched because of the necessity of clarification of certain situations in Iran because of a political reason. This is not how the IAEA works. I as DG would never do that … What we need to do with Iran is to sit around the table and try to clarify these issues. The only way that these issues will go away is if they are clarified to the full satisfaction of the IAEA. I am optimistic that we will be able to do that [solve this issue] without any politicization of the issue or making it contingent or dependent on the closing of the JCPOA negotiations.”
      • Laurence Norman of the Wall Street Journal reported that “the regular IAEA report should be circulated tomorrow but the safeguards report will be circulated after a likely trip to Tehran by Rafael Grossi, which probably starts Friday.”
    • Israeli Defense Minister reiterated Israel’s stance that a nuclear Iran presents an existential threat to Israel which it will do whatever necessary to prevent, saying, “in coming weeks, perhaps even in coming days, a nuclear agreement may be signed between powers & Iran. Whether that happens or not, Israel will continue to do whatever it takes to prevent Iran from becoming an existential threat & possessing nuclear capability … Even if an agreement is signed, we’ll never stop operating in diplomatic channels with goal of tightening observation on Iran, and with real and painful consequences for any violation [of the agreement] and progress in nuclear development.”