Nuclear talks in Vienna
Nuclear talks in Vienna Handout, Reuters

As part of an effort to revive the international nuclear deal with Iran, Russia has discussed a possible interim agreement with Iran in recent weeks, NBC News reported, citing one former US official and four other people familiar with the discussions.

The interim agreement would involve limited sanctions relief in return for reimposing some restrictions on Tehran’s nuclear program, the sources said.

The sources noted the US is aware of Russia’s proposal to Iran but senior Biden administration officials distanced the US from the Russian effort.

Iran has so far rejected the proposal presented by Russia, the officials and other people familiar with the discussions said. The Iran Permanent Mission to the United Nations said on Friday that Tehran does not want an interim deal, and declined to discuss specifics of the Russian proposal.

Iran has gradually scaled back its compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal it signed with world powers in response to former US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement in May of 2018.

However, it has held indirect talks with the US on reviving the deal. Negotiations to restore the deal resumed in late November after they were suspended in June.

The Islamic Republic has repeatedly demanded that the US lift sanctions imposed on Iran and also reassure Iran it will not abandon the deal again as a precondition for its returning to compliance with the deal.

A senior Biden administration official told NBC News that an interim “arrangement” is not under serious discussion.

“Though we cannot speak for any discussions that may have taken place between Russia and Iran, at this stage we are certain that no such interim arrangement is being seriously discussed,” the official said. “Regarding an interim deal, we will not negotiate in the press or comment on specific claims about the negotiations. Our timeline is based on a technical assessment of Iran’s nuclear progress rather than a temporal clock.”

The Russian government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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