Qatari minister of foreign affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, was welcomed in Tehran on January 29th by his counterpart, Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, reportedly carrying a message from the US regarding reviving the Iran Nuclear Deal.
“Qatar has always been passing on messages about the return of the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) parties to their commitments. Today, we received JCPOA-related messages from the Qatari side” stated Amir-Abdollahian in a joint press conference, referring to the Iran Nuclear Deal of 2015 that reached a deadlock last summer.
The Iranian minister thanked the Qataris for their role in reviving the deal and the Qatari minister took the opportunity to further urge all parties to return to the negotiating table.
During the press conference, the foreign ministers disclosed that bilateral discussions were also held on removing barriers to trade and economic cooperation, as well as discussions on regional issues. Amir-Abdollahian stressed that his country “always welcomes regional dialogue”.
The statements out of Tehran appear to counter Washington’s insistence that their focus has shifted away from the JCPOA due to human rights concerns and Iran’s provision of military support to Russia in its invasion of Ukraine.
Following the sale of armed drones to Russia, the European Union also endorsed a major policy shift to list Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as terrorists. With France and Germany as parties to the JCPOA, last weekend the Financial Times reported that this could destabilise the restoration of the international deal.
According to Reuters, “the nuclear pact talks were thrown into disarray, chiefly over Tehran’s insistence that Washington remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), its elite security force, from the U.S. Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) list”. While Tehran reportedly claims this matter is no longer a sticking point, the issue of sanctions is expected to be discussed.
The US’ seeming relaxation of sanctions against Iran could be an attempt to stabilise oil prices. “Iranian geopolitics have been simmering under the radar of the oil market over the last year or so… We have seen a relaxing of sanctions’ enforcement by the Biden Administration allowing Iranian exports to increase over the last month or so. It will be interesting to see if there is any tightening” Darren Woods from S&P Global told CNBC earlier today. Woods explained that the tightening of sanctions on Iran could result in higher oil prices, something the US is trying to avoid.
Iranian state media reported that indirect nuclear talks between Tehran and Washington began last week in Doha, with Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator meeting with Enrique Mora, the EU envoy.