The long game of Iranian nuclear talks

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EEAS Deputy Secretary General Enrique Mora (left) arrives at the Grand Hotel on the day the JCPOA Iran nuclear talks are scheduled to resume in Vienna, Austria, April 27, 2021. / CFP

EEAS Deputy Secretary General Enrique Mora (left) arrives at the Grand Hotel on the day the JCPOA Iran nuclear talks are scheduled to resume in Vienna, Austria, April 27, 2021. / CFP

Editor’s Note: Bobby Naderi is a London-based journalist, guest contributor to print, radio and television, and documentary maker. The article reflects the views of the author, and not necessarily those of CGTN.

It is fitting that the first talks in Vienna between Iran and world powers on how to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), have been suspended. In a year that has been too difficult, talks could also collapse next week if both sides do not change their demands and attitudes.

EU negotiators claimed Iran had reversed all previous diplomatic progress and stepped up its nuclear program. EU chief negotiator Enrique Mora said talks would resume soon, but warned time was not unlimited. Diplomats representing all three European parties to the talks – Britain, France and Germany – have also expressed disappointment and concern over the stalemate.

It is true that Tehran reversed some of the compromises made after many months of hard work and accelerated its nuclear program. However, it is also true that it also seemed negative about the chances of restoring the atomic deal. The United States is not prepared to lift all sanctions against Iran, including those imposed by President Joe Biden’s administration that are unrelated to the JCPOA.

And honestly, who can deny it? A US negotiating team was also in Vienna, but was not allowed to join the talks, on the grounds that former President Donald Trump left the deal in 2018, prompting Tehran to penetrate atomic cutoffs in the agreement. Moreover, regardless of the charge, Biden has always pursued Trump’s maximum pressure campaign against Iran since taking office.

All of these factors come together powerfully when one realizes that the Vienna talks are only partially about Iran’s nuclear program and that such maneuvers could be the least of future problems. Iran and the United States plan to play the long geopolitical game and act from a position of strength. The future is not yet decided and it is a complex challenge in a new world order that is emerging, with the United States in retreat across the Middle East and Asia after the humiliation in Iraq and the United States. Afghanistan.

There is a way out, however, and that includes awakening to unpleasant realities. The goal should not be so much to restore the nuclear deal as to end hostilities and double standards. Maintaining peace in the Middle East should also be an essential objective, as a new war of aggression would be a disaster for the region. None of this will be easy. However, instead of proposing unrealistic demands or threats, all parties need to have confidence in themselves and in the current diplomatic channel.

Police officers guard the entrance to the Grand Hotel Wien during closed-door nuclear talks with Iran in Vienna, where diplomats from the EU, China, Russia and Iran hold talks, on 16 April 2021. / CFP

Police officers guard the entrance to the Grand Hotel Wien during closed-door nuclear talks with Iran in Vienna, where diplomats from the EU, China, Russia and Iran hold talks, on 16 April 2021. / CFP

Now it is true that it does not help anyone to claim that Iran is practicing nuclear blackmail as a negotiating tactic. This should be answered with an immediate halt to the implementation of severe measures by the world powers. There is no evidence to support the claim that Iran has no intention of reducing its nuclear activity to JCPOA levels and is only trying to buy time to develop a nuclear bomb. Tehran has been forced to take steps to advance its nuclear program in the face of pressure from Washington. Therefore, a relaunch of the JCPOA would reverse all of these steps.

Unfortunately, planning for the confrontation with Iran continues elsewhere and risks hampering broader discussions. The United States has threatened to confront Iran at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) next month, if it does not let the agency reinstall cameras in a workshop after an attack in June. State Department Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley says Washington will “not stand idly by” if Tehran chooses to block talks and advance its atomic program to the point where it is “too close” Of a functional weapon. The problem here is that Iran is not doing anything under pressure.

Some might say that these comments also relate to the Biden administration trying to appease a disgruntled Israel, and that its tougher Iranian policies are designed to appease Tel Aviv, whose objections seem to center on the pact that hampers its decades of unrest. for war. against Iran. Once again, Iran has made it clear that it does not want war. Iran also does not want a new deal that limits its military capabilities.

Add to that Biden’s low approval rating and the need to defeat Trump who will run for president in 2024. Biden could revive the JCPOA, but with new conditions to show he has adopted more Iranian policies. strict. This is a problem that could easily be backed up by a non-diplomatic tirade of “the deal can go one way or the other.” It’s an evil that could easily come up with a “we can go away” shtick, or openly change horses in the middle of the race after a new deal is struck.

With the overdrive American spin machine, expect the current hostility and stalemate between Iran and the United States to drag on, which could lead, too literally, to an explosive situation, to the willful disruption and sabotage of ongoing nuclear diplomacy. In every sense of the word, that wouldn’t bother anyone in Washington, would it? Of course not! Whatever happens in Vienna next week, there is always an open invitation for more sanctions, showing courage for Tehran in the name of respect for international law and regional security.

(If you would like to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at opinions@cgtn.com.)


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