US in talks with Iran to stop selling drones to Russia- FT

The US has been engaged in indirect talks with Iran, "pushing" it to stop selling combat drones to Russia, the Financial Times reports, citing "people briefed on the matter".

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Sources told the FT the Biden administration has raised the issue with Tehran at indirect talks in Qatar and Oman this year.

An Iranian official and another person briefed on the talks said the US wants Iran to stop supplying drones to Russia as well as spare parts for them.

Tehran officially denies supplying Russia with kamikaze drones for the war against Ukraine, but Washington wants "more concrete steps" than unfounded statements, the source said.

Instead, the US will allegedly refrain from imposing new sanctions in some areas — except for those related to human rights — and "would not strictly police" the sanctions already in place on oil sales, the Iranian official said.

Washington’s offer is part of a larger ‘tacit’ agreement with Tehran to reduce tensions and contain the crisis over Iran’s nuclear programme.

US former president Donald Trump terminated the Iranian nuclear deal in 2017, and given how far Tehran’s nuclear programme has advanced since, US officials and analysts agree that the agreement is not renewable.

The discussions between Washington and Tehran were held in parallel with negotiations on the exchange of prisoners. In August, Tehran transferred four Iranian-American citizens from prison to house arrest.

"The negotiators hope the indirect talks will lead to both sides agreeing de-escalatory measures. For Iran, this would mean agreeing not to enrich uranium above 60 per cent purity, improving its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, and pledging not to target Americans", per the Financial Times.

One of the sources said that "there’s quite a big gap between having that conversation [on de-escalatory measures] with an Iranian and then the whole Iranian system being willing to implement it".

US state secretary Anthony Blinken said on Tuesday that Washington is pursuing a strategy of deterrence, pressure and diplomacy to "ensure" that Iran does not obtain nuclear weapons and hold Tehran accountable for human rights violations and "provision of drones to Russia for its use in the war against Ukraine".