European diplomats have told Iran they plan to retain European Union ballistic missile sanctions set to expire in October under the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, four sources told Reuters on Wednesday.

The sources cited three reasons for keeping the sanctions: Russia’s use of Iranian drones against Ukraine; the possibility Iran might transfer ballistic missiles to Russia; and depriving Iran of the nuclear deal’s benefits given Tehran has violated the accord, albeit only after the United States did so first.

Keeping the EU sanctions would reflect Western efforts to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them despite the collapse of the 2015 deal, which then-US President Donald Trump withdrew from in 2018.

“The Iranians have been told quite clearly (of plans to keep the sanctions) and now the question is what, if any, retaliatory steps the Iranians might take and (how) to anticipate that,” a Western diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

The EU sanctions are set to expire on October 18 under UN resolution 2231, which enshrined the 2015 nuclear deal.

The resolution says that Iran is “called upon” to refrain for up to eight years from work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons.

The sanctions barred anyone from buying, selling or transferring drones and their components capable of flying more than 300 km to or from Iran without prior authorization from the UN Security Council, permission that has not been granted.

Iran has continued to carry out ballistic missile tests and satellite launches. The West, in turn, has accused Iran of violating resolution 2231, which Iran denies.

It was not clear whether the E3, a group comprised of Britain, France and Germany, told Iran of their intent to retain the EU sanctions when their senior officials met Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani on June 12 in Abu Dhabi, noted Reuters.

EU diplomat Enrique Mora, who coordinates talks on the 2015 deal, raised the issue of keeping the EU sanctions when he met Bagheri Kani in Doha on June 21, but the Iranian official refused to discuss the matter, an Iranian official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

A second Iranian official brushed off the possibility of the sanctions remaining, saying Tehran had advanced its nuclear and missile programs for years despite Western sanctions.

Wednesday’s report follows recent reports that the US and Iran were close to an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program.

Two weeks ago, a report by the New York Times revealed details of an emerging deal between the United States and Iran regarding the Iranian nuclear program.

According to the report, the Americans are aiming to reach an informal, unwritten agreement, which some Iranian officials are calling a “political ceasefire,” which would prevent a further escalation.

The new deal — which two Israeli officials called “imminent” — would reportedly stipulate that Iran would not enrich uranium beyond its current production level of 60 percent purity.

Iran would also halt lethal attacks on American contractors in Syria and Iraq by its proxies in the region, expand its cooperation with international nuclear inspectors, and refrain from selling ballistic missiles to Russia.

The report in the Times followed a report in Axios, which said that Brett McGurk, US President Joe Biden’s senior Middle East adviser, took a low-profile trip to Oman in May for talks with Omani officials on possible diplomatic outreach to Iran regarding its nuclear program.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson later confirmed reports of indirect talks with the US in Oman, but denied it was interested an interim deal with Washington.

A US official then said that the United States and Iran are not discussing an interim nuclear deal, and that Washington had merely conveyed to Tehran what steps might trigger a crisis and also those that may create a better climate between the long-time antagonists.

Source » israelnationalnews