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Rouhani Expects 'Positive Results' From Negotiations With Europe

Iranian President Hassan Rohani speaks during a ceremony in the city of Tabriz in the northwestern East-Azerbaijan province, August 1, 2019

President Hassan Rouhani says Iran's negotiations with the remaining parties in the 2015 nuclear deal might bear "positive results" in the coming weeks.

This is the first time in recent years that an Iranian official sounds optimistic about talks with the West.

Speaking in Tabriz on Thursday August 1, Rouhani pointed out that suggestions made so far by the "other side" have not been "balanced" and Iran has not accepted them.

He said: "We might reach positive results during the coming week," adding that "If we don't, then we will take a firm third step" to further reduce Iran's commitment to the nuclear deal, also called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

It appears that Rouhani was referring to French President Emmanuel Macron's "freeze for freeze" plan to reduce tensions between Iran and the United States.

Based on this plan, the United States does not need to return to the JCPOA as a precondition for talks, while Iran stops increasing its uranium enrichment level. In return, Washington temporarily stops some of its actions against Iran and does not intensify the sanctions it has imposed on Iran's oil exports and international banking.

Iran and France have not declared the details of this plan and the U.S. appears to have more or less are silent about it. One possible major issue is if the U.S. tones down its sanctions, what concessions is Iran willing to make.

Simply complying with JCPOA requirements is something that was in place before May and Washington does not gain anything. One possible concession by Iran might be limiting its missile program, such an end to ballistic missile tests, but no one has yet directly mentioned this.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaking at a campaign rally in Cincinnati, Ohio on Thursday told the crowd that Iran is desperate to negotiate with America. He said: “Iran is a much different country than 2 ½ years ago when I took over. It was all over… Now…Now they just want to negotiate a deal so badly.”

Rouhani complained in his remarks that the United States has increased the risk of cooperation with Iran for other countries and the remaining parties of the JCPOA have not been able to stand by their promises to help Iran.

We told Europeans that if they don't fulfil their obligations based on the 2015 deal, Iran will gradually reduce its commitments.

Iran has been reducing its commitments in the nuclear deal since the anniversary of the U.S. pull-out from the JCPOA in May. So far in two steps it has exceeded the 3.67 percent enrichment level and the 300 ton enriched Uranium stockpile.

The UK, France and Germany have said the suspension of Tehran's commitment are unacceptable, and Russia has said the suspension of Iran's commitment will not help to improve the situation.

Iran insists that it should be allowed to sell its oil in the international markets and repatriate its oil revenues via international banking system.

Meanwhile, the United States is concerned about the fact that five years after the conclusion of JCPOA, limitations on Iran's weapons procurements will stop, based on UN Resolution 2231. Washington wants the limitations to be extended beyond 2020.

In the meantime, tensions between Iran and the United States have been increasing in the Persian Gulf region in recent months, seriously endangering oil exports by the Gulf states via the Strait of Hormuz. But at the same time, U.S. sanctions have seriously damaged Iran’s already shaky economy, creating the danger of a total collapse if Iran refuses to negotiate.