Amid pessimism and mistrust, Iran nuclear talks resume in Vienna after lengthy gap

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After a five-month delay, Tehran and world powers returned to Vienna on Monday to resume talks to restore a 2015 deal that limited Iran’s nuclear capabilities but was later torpedoed by Donald Trump. Given.

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Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Syed Khatibzadeh said Tehran was “strongly determined” to salvage the deal, with US State Department spokesman Ned Price saying last week that Washington would “reciprocally return to compliance” in the seventh round of talks. ” had demanded.

“We are serious about negotiating and reaching an agreement,” Iranian Foreign Minister Hussein Amir-Abdullahian said in a video posted online on Sunday.


“Let’s get back to the deal,” US chief negotiator Robert Malley told National Public Radio on Friday. “Let’s do this by closing the remaining issues that were left open in June after six rounds of talks. But let’s hurry because time is not with us.”

Though behind the scenes, many doubt the deal can be revived.

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“Iranians want Americans to show goodwill and build housing, and Americans want Iranians to show goodwill,” said Sanam Vakil, an expert on the Middle East and Iran at Chatham House. “But this five-month pause has widened each other’s misconceptions and created a very pessimistic atmosphere.”

In the months that Iran, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, China and the European Union met for the last time in the Austrian capital, to discuss reinstating the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which had stymied the Iranian nuclear program. Stopped, the ground has shifted significantly.

The government has changed in Tehran, with President Ibrahim Raisi likely to make any talks with the new radical administration difficult. Iran has stepped up its program, expanding its production of nuclear material while stoning inspectors demanding more information and access to its sensitive facilities.

International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors earlier this month estimated Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium at about 2,500 kilograms, more than enough to fuel a nuclear weapon or two if Iran exits from its treaty obligations. and tries to collect a bomb.

The delay has encouraged the long standing opponents of the JCPOA. Over the weekend, the regime launched a violent crackdown on farmers and environmental activists who peacefully protested the drying up of a beloved and historic river in the city of Isfahan, highlighting Iran’s grim human rights record and the reputational risks of dealing with the country.

US Republicans strongly oppose the deal foiled by their standard-bearer, Trump. Since the final round of talks, the US administration of President Joseph Biden has weakened, with election numbers dwindling and Republican opponents smelling of blood.

“The domestic climate in both Iran and the United States could spoil rapid progress,” Ms. Lawyer said.

Israeli Prime Minister Lapid was in the United Kingdom on Monday to lobby Boris Johnson’s government to take a tougher stance on Iran and will visit France later this week to put pressure on President Emmanuel Macron. Israel worries that President Joseph Biden’s administration could lift some of the most severe sanctions imposed by Trump in exchange for Iran’s suspension of enrichment.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was quoted as saying during a cabinet meeting on Sunday, “Israel is deeply disturbed by the desire to lift sanctions and flow Arabs into Iran in exchange for inadequate sanctions in the nuclear sector.”

Iran has probably become more paranoid by Israel, after repeated attacks on its nuclear facilities. On Sunday, Mr Lapid and UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss wrote a joint piece in a UK newspaper announcing a united front against Iran, prompting a furious reaction from Tehran.

“The British Foreign Secretary writes in a joint article on the night before the Vienna talks with a party that from the very beginning made all efforts to prevent the signing of the JCPOA and its repeal and, even today, the main opponent is the Vienna negotiations and the revival of the JCPOA. ,” said Mr. Khatibzadeh.

“You see that at least some European countries are not coming to Vienna with the necessary will to lift the sanctions.”

Adding to the sense of mistrust, Iranians have refused to meet directly with US counterparts, negotiating with their Russian and Chinese patrons, instead communicating through European intermediaries. Ms. Lawyer said the lack of direct contact was complicating the talks.

“We will be in a hotel room, and we will be waiting to hear whether other people who have agreed to speak to Iran will report back,” Mr Maley said in an NPR interview. “It’s not exactly what it should be, and we’ve told Iran time and again – indirectly, because they won’t listen to us directly – that if they want to get results, if they want to get results quickly, the better.” The way is to sit in front of us.”

A report released on Monday by the Tony Blair Institute, a think tank funded by Iran’s rival Saudi Arabia, cautioned that Mr Raisi, along with ideologically rigid graduates of the elite Imam Sadegh University (ISU), including the chief nuclear negotiator, will build its national security team. were staffing. Ali Bagheri Kani, who is unfamiliar with the West.

“Despite being non-militarist by observation, ISU’s emerging technocrats are equally ideological, have gone through rigorous selection processes for enrollment and have had extensive education to graduate,” the report said.


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