The EU’s negotiator to the Vienna talks, Enrique Mora, is due in Tehran on Tuesday to perhaps break the gridlock in the paused negotiations, paving the way for the removal of sanctions and the return of the United States to the JCPOA. Iran Daily has discussed this issue with Mostafa Khoshcheshm, an expert and analyst on international affairs.
IRAN DAILY: Do you think Mora’s visit to Tehran could lead to the resolution of the remaining disputes between Iran and the United States?
KHOSHCHESHM: The main unresolved issues at the Vienna talks deal with US sanctions against certain Iranian individuals, companies and entities. Another sticking point is the removal of the IRGC from the list of terrorist groups. Of course, lifting sanctions is more important because benefiting from the JCPOA depends on removal of these bans. As long as the American side does not give the concessions demanded by Iran under the JCPOA, the current situation, namely, the war of wills between Iran and the United States will continue. It is on the US to make a political decision to break the deadlock. The Americans have put themselves in an impasse. Every day they refuse to give Iran concessions, it becomes harder for them to make decisions.
I think, with such trips, Mora is trying at least to keep the Vienna negotiations alive in order for the American side to reach a definitive conclusion. Making concessions to Iran inside the US is costly for the Biden administration, and the refusal to make them is also problematic. Because the revival of the JCPOA was one of Biden’s policies announced during the election campaign.
In the meantime, the American side apparently does not have a Plan B because it has already used all its tools, including sanctions, psychological warfare and cyberattacks, etc., and has not benefited from the maximum pressure campaign. I guess that with the current global situation, Biden should be more realistic about this issue and give Iran the desired concessions, for he will not benefit from the current situation.
Do you think Mora’s visit to Tehran is aimed at convincing Iran to back down from some of its demands, or is he bringing a new offer from the United States?
I don’t think Mora is coming to Tehran with a new initiative or proposal. They have already tested Iran’s will and received responses from Tehran. Mora is trying to keep the Vienna talks alive so that the US side can reach a decision during the long hiatus it has created, and Iran will not abandon the negotiations and at least wait for the US to decide.
Has nothing happened since the talks came to a halt on March 11, including the exchange of messages between Iran and the US?
No major change has happened. This is the last stage of the negotiations. It is the bargaining stage. The parties are trying to win concessions. It is the American side that has brought the negotiations to a halt and has not yet made a political decision. This situation is the result of division and fragmentation inside the United States that has made it hard for Biden to make decisions. Of course, Mora is rightly aware that Iran will not wait forever; his trips are meant to prevent escalation of tensions while the Vienna talks remain as Iran’s focus.
Will Mora succeed in this mission?
It seems that the Iranian side does not currently want to walk out of the Vienna talks altogether. I think Iran will wait for a short time until Biden reaches a final decision so that Iran is not responsible for the unfortunate consequences of Washington’s failure to make a decision.