Russia offered Iran interim nuclear deal with US' knowledge - report

Iran rejected Russia's proposal and the US distanced itself from Russia's attempts at an interim agreement, according to a report.

US President Joe Biden holds virtual talks with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, as Secretary of State Antony Blinken listens with other officials, at the White House, last month. (photo credit: The White House/Handout via REUTERS)
US President Joe Biden holds virtual talks with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, as Secretary of State Antony Blinken listens with other officials, at the White House, last month.
(photo credit: The White House/Handout via REUTERS)

Iran was offered an interim nuclear agreement by Russia with the knowledge of the US, NBC revealed in an exclusive report on Saturday.

Citing numerous former and current US officials, NBC reported that Iran rejected Russia's interim proposal, which was reportedly given the go-ahead by the Biden administration.

One draft of Russia's proposed interim agreement would have seen the Islamic Republic forced to stop enriching uranium up to 60%. In addition, Iran would have had to dispose of its existing stockpile of enriched uranium.

In exchange, certain sanctions would have been lifted that meant Iran could have gained access to billions of dollars frozen in foreign bank accounts, including South Korea, where the US permitted to pay damages owed to an Iranian company in a move seen as a trust-building step.

However, Iran rejected Russia's proposal and the US distanced itself from Russia's attempts at an interim agreement, according to the report.

Missiles are displayed during Iran’s National Army Day parade in Tehran in September 2019. (credit: WANA NEWS AGENCY/REUTERS)Missiles are displayed during Iran’s National Army Day parade in Tehran in September 2019. (credit: WANA NEWS AGENCY/REUTERS)

Earlier in January, the Islamic Republic denied a report it had reached a two-year interim agreement with world powers. An interim arrangement is not under serious discussion, NBC reported, citing a senior Biden administration official.

"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 reportedly said.

Russia's attempt at reaching an interim deal with Iran comes a day after Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke with his American counterpart Antony Blinken, when the latter warning that talks with Iran have reached "a decisive moment."

Blinken said that, while the window of opportunity to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) still exists, Iran's nuclear advancements would foil any return to the accord if a fresh pact was not reached in the coming weeks.

Other voices around the negotiation table seem more optimistic, with a European Union official saying on Friday that the Vienna talks are moving in the right direction and a final agreement may be within reach. Indirect talks between Iran and the United States on reviving the deal resumed almost two months ago.

Lahav Harkov and Reuters contributed to this report.