Updated Mar 11, 2022 - World

Iran nuclear talks "paused" over Russia's last-minute sanctions demands

Mikhail Ulyanov

Russia's chief negotiator, Mikhail Ulyanov. Photo: Vladimir Simicek AFP via Getty Images

Nuclear talks in Vienna between Iran and the world powers were officially "paused" on Friday, with no clear timetable for renewing them, according to the European Union's top diplomat.

Why it matters: Although a draft agreement is practically ready, Russia's new demands that sanctions imposed over Ukraine won't limit Moscow's ability to conduct trade with Iran have dramatically complicated the situation.

The latest: Russian chief negotiator Mikhail Ulyanov told reporters in Vienna the pause on the talks has nothing to do with Russia.

  • He claimed it's due to remaining gaps between some of the parties in the talks, denying Russia has caused an impasse.
  • "The conclusion of the deal does not depend only on Russia. There are other actors who need additional time and have additional concerns," Ulyanov said.

What they're saying: "A pause in Vienna talks is needed, due to external factors. A final text is essentially ready and on the table," tweeted EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who is the coordinator of the talks.

  • Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh tweeted: "Pause in Vienna Talks could be a momentum for resolving any remaining issue and a final return."
  • "Successful conclusion of talks will be the main focus of all. No external factor will affect our joint will to go forward for a collective agreement."
  • U.S. envoy Rob Malley arrived back in Washington on Friday from Vienna, State Department spokesman Ned Price said.
  • Price said decisions need to be made “in Tehran and Moscow” but if there is political will it will be possible to return to the nuclear deal.
  • “The new Russian related sanctions shouldn’t have any influence on the implementation of the Iran deal. We won’t offer Russia anything new or specific on this,” Price said.

What's next: Borrell said he will continue to be in touch with Iran, the U.S. and the world powers participating in the talks to overcome the current situation and close the agreement.

This story is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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