Ballistic missile launch during test, Iran (Iranian media)
Against the backdrop of the indirect talks held by the United States and Iran in Oman, which were exposed in Walla!, Iraqi officials announced that the Biden administration had given the government in Baghdad a specific exemption from sanctions on Iran in order to pay Tehran about $2.7 billion to cover electricity and gas debts.
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Why it's important
- Iraq had wanted to carry out the move for a long time, but needed American approval so as not to be harmed by the sanctions imposed on Iran.
- Senior Israeli officials believe that giving Washington the green light at this time is related to the indirect talks between the Bahai countries and Iran and the American attempt to reach "understandings" with Iran regarding the nuclear program.
More in Walla!
The U.S. threatened Iran with secret talks in Oman: If you export uranium to military level, you will pay a heavy price
See full article >
In the News Hub
- Iraqi Foreign Minister Fouad Hussein met earlier this week in Saudi Arabia with U.S. Secretary of State Blinken to discuss the issue.
- Hussein also met with Oman Foreign Minister Sayyid Badr, who is involved in mediating between Iran and the United States.
- Iraqi officials told Reuters that the U.S. approval came after the meeting between Hussein and Blinken.
Yesterday posted in Walla! U.S. and Iranian officials held indirect talks in the Sultanate of Oman last month, while Omani officials hopped between the separate rooms where they were named and conveyed messages, according to three sources familiar with the matter.
The existence of the "proximity talks" meeting in Oman was previously unknown. It was the first time the United States and Iran had such contacts in many months.
The indirect talks in Oman took place against the backdrop of growing concern in the White House about the progress Iran has made in its nuclear program and the American desire to find a way to halt an escalation in the situation in the region.
President Biden's senior Middle East adviser, Brett McGurk, secretly traveled to Oman on May 8 for talks with senior Omani officials about a diplomatic effort with Iran on the nuclear program.
His administration gave the government in Baghdad a specific exemption from sanctions on Iran. Biden (Photo by Shutterstock)
- This trip was more significant than it first seemed. As it turns out, McGurk wasn't alone in Oman. A delegation of senior Iranian officials also arrived in the sultanate on the same day, according to sources familiar with the matter.
- According to one of the sources, Ali Bagheri-Kani, who headed Iran's negotiating team at the nuclear talks in Vienna last year, was part of the Iranian delegation.
- According to the three sources, the purpose of the American and Iranian officials was to hold an indirect talks meeting with Omani mediators.
- Biden's senior adviser and senior Iranian officials did not meet face-to-face. They sat in two separate sources, and Omani officials "skipped over" each other and conveyed messages.
- One of the main messages that Merrak conveyed to the Iranians through the Omanis at that meeting in Muscat concerned deterrence. The sources noted that the United States had made it clear to Iran that it would pay a heavy price if it progressed to enriching uranium to a level of 90% from which nuclear weapons could be produced.
What to pay attention to
- The goal of the indirect talks and messaging between the United States and Iran is to reach "understandings" on ways to halt an escalation of Iran's nuclear program, change Iran's behavior in the region, and prevent an escalation of Iranian aid to Russia in the war in Ukraine.
- If such "understandings" are reached and if tensions in the region are reduced, this could be used as a basis for talks between the United States and Iran on a new nuclear agreement between the sides. It is still unclear whether the sides are close to achieving such "understandings."
In April it was reported in Walla! Because the Biden administration is discussing with Israel and European powers a proposal for a partial agreement with Iran based on the principle of "freeze for freeze" – Iran will halt parts of its nuclear program in exchange for some relief from American sanctions.
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