Iranian hardliners say US set to make concessions for nuclear deal — report

Opposition outlet Iran International claims Washington is ready to exchange prisoners, lift sanctions on banks, release $7 billion in Iranian funds frozen in South Korea

Iranian deputy foreign minister Reza Najafi, left, and Iranian AEOI spokesperson Behrouz Kamalvandi, seen leaving the Palais Coburg where closed-door nuclear talks took place in Vienna, Austria, August 5, 2022. (AP/Florian Schroetter)
Iranian deputy foreign minister Reza Najafi, left, and Iranian AEOI spokesperson Behrouz Kamalvandi, seen leaving the Palais Coburg where closed-door nuclear talks took place in Vienna, Austria, August 5, 2022. (AP/Florian Schroetter)

Iranian hardliners have claimed the US is set to make concessions as part of a nuclear deal with Tehran, according to a Thursday report.

Iran and the US will take 120 days to carry out a series of steps as part of the deal’s implementation, and Iranian hardliners have circulated a list of concessions the US will make during that period, according to a report by Iran International, a news outlet identified with Iran’s political opposition.

The US will release $7 billion dollars in Iranian funds that have been frozen in South Korean banks due to US sanctions, and will cancel several executive orders targeting Iran that were signed by former US president Donald Trump, the report said.

Iran will be allowed to sell 50 million barrels of oil during the 120-day period, claimed Iran International, which said it had obtained the list of concessions that have been circulating among Iranian hardliners.

The US will lift sanctions on 17 Iranian banks and 150 other entities, which were not named on the list, the report said.

Both the US and Iran will release prisoners from the other side, the report said, without specifying any other concessions Iran would make.

The White House denied the report.

Launched in 2017, London-based Iran International reaches millions of Iranians in Iran and around the world. It is considered an oppositional news outlet to Iran’s regime and has made headlines for covering issues like human rights violations, LGBTQ+ rights, and women’s rights.

The Thursday report came out as Iran appeared to be nearing a nuclear deal with world powers after negotiations in Vienna stalled for months.

On July 26, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell submitted a proposal to Iran on returning to the nuclear deal, with a deadline for it to respond by midnight Monday night.

According to a Politico report citing a senior Western official, the Iranian response was received Monday evening Brussels time and focused on remaining questions related to sanctions and “guarantees around economic engagement.”

Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency offered no details on the substance of its response, but suggested that Tehran still wouldn’t take the European Union-mediated proposal, despite warnings there would be no more negotiations.

Top Israeli officials have warned their counterparts in the US and Europe against the deal and called for the negotiators to give up on the talks.

“The Europeans sent Iran a final offer, which doesn’t even meet the demands that the Americans committed to, and established that this offer was ‘take it or leave it,’” said a senior Israeli official at the highest level of decision-making on Thursday.

“Iran turned down the offer, and the time has come to get up and walk away,” the official continued. “Anything else sends a strong message of weakness.”

Prime Minister Yair Lapid expressed this message in a Thursday phone call with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, whose country is a party to the talks.

Lapid also made the case on Thursday to US Ambassador Tom Nides, and Florida congressman Ted Deutch, chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa and Global Counterterrorism.

Lapid will continue to make calls to Western leaders and diplomats, the Israeli official said.

National Security Adviser Eyal Hulata will head to Washington, DC, next week to conduct a series of meetings with US officials on the Iran nuclear program.

Iran signed its nuclear deal in 2015 with the US, France, Germany, Britain, Russia, and China. The deal saw Iran agree to limit its enrichment of uranium under the watch of UN inspectors in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.

In 2018, then-US president Donald Trump pulled the US out of the accord and said he would negotiate a stronger deal, but that didn’t happen. Iran began breaking the deal’s terms a year later.

EU-coordinated negotiations on reviving the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, began in April 2021 before coming to a standstill in March and picking up again in August. The Biden administration has repeatedly said it believes diplomacy is the best way to resolve the crisis.

Israel believes Iran wishes to build a nuclear bomb, has revealed intelligence it says reveals the Iranian weapons program, and has reportedly carried out sabotage operations within the Islamic Republic to delay the development of such a weapon.

Iran has denied any nefarious intentions and claims its program is designed for peaceful purposes, though it has recently been enriching uranium to levels that international leaders say have no civil use.

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