0938 GMT October 05, 2022
Vienna’s luxury Palais Coburg hotel hosts today a fresh round of talks on the restoration of the 2015 nuclear deal among delegations from Iran, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany.
As was the case in the previous rounds of the nuclear negotiations, the U.S. delegation is also there to indirectly take part in the talks.
On Wednesday evening, the Iranian negotiating team, headed by Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Ali Bagheri Kani, left Tehran for the Austrian capital.
As announced by Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani, the new round of the talks is expected to focus on the proposed ideas by the sides, including those presented by the Islamic Republic to the other side earlier this week.
He stressed that Iran is determined to reach a lasting agreement that would guarantee the nation’s rights and safeguard its interests, expressing hope that the other sides would prepare the ground for the effective progress of the negotiations through taking the required decisions and concentrating seriously on the resolution of the remaining differences.
On his way to Vienna on Wednesday, the European Union Deputy Foreign Policy Chief Enrique Mora, tweeted that he is going to the Austrian capital “to discuss #JCPOA back to full implementation on the basis of the coordinator's text tabled on 20 July”.
A few days ago, the EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell said Europe had put forward a new proposal for the achievement of a nuclear agreement, claiming that the proposed plan has taken into account Iran’s economic interests and predicted the required measures to make it more difficult for the United States to make another exit from the deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Many experts and media perceived Europe’s proposal and Borrell’s related opinion piece published by the Financial Times as an ultimatum to the negotiating sides or a warning against the consequences of a failure to reach an agreement.
Although the United States said earlier it was considering Europe’s proposed plan, it has announced ahead of the new round of the negotiations that it is not going to remove the Islamic Republic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) from the Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) list. In addition, the U.S. Department of the Treasury on Monday imposed new sanctions against Tehran, which was described by Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian as a bid aimed at extracting further concessions from the Islamic Republic in the talks.
Tehran, of course, reciprocated the hostile action by announcing that it has launched hundreds of new centrifuges, to counterbalance Washington’s coercive measure ahead of the negotiations.
Concurrently, Bagheri Kani tweeted that Iran “stands ready to conclude the negotiations in a short order, should the other side be ready to do the same”.
The Russian delegation also announced at the 10th NPT Review Conference that Moscow strongly stresses the necessity of resuming the JCPOA’s full implementation as soon as possible.
The new round of the talks in Vienna comes as the sides, during the past 18 months, have held lengthy negotiations over the nuclear issue and exchanged several proposals. At present, however, Europe’s proposal is on the table and Iran has said it has submitted its initiatives to the other sides.
Iranian President Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi, in a phone conversation with his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, 13 days ago, said achieving a nuclear agreement hinges on the complete resolution of the safeguards issues and provision of the necessary guarantees for all sides’ verifiable and continuous commitment to the deal and safeguarding Iran’s economic interests.
The Iranian foreign minister has frequently announced that Tehran seeks to reach a “good, robust and lasting” agreement.
In spite of the U.S. assessments and calculations, the protraction of the negotiations has not only failed to force Iran into backing down from its demands, but also enabled Tehran to, through implementing certain policies and measures, such as expanding relations with neighbors, China and Russia, manage the consequences of the White House’s sanctions. In addition, the continuation of the war in Ukraine has further highlighted Europe’s energy crisis in the absence of Iran’s oil and gas. Currently, everybody is waiting to see how the sides would react to the EU’s new proposal.
Iran has so far demonstrated the required goodwill and flexibility. Now, it appears that the ball is in the U.S. court. President Joe Biden is currently the one required to show whether he would be true to his election campaign’s promise of returning to the JCPOA or want to continue breaking it.
In his opinion piece, Borrell warned, “If the deal is rejected, we risk a dangerous nuclear crisis.”
The new round of the nuclear talks will once again put to test how willing the US is, and how responsibly it can act, to compensate for the mistake of withdrawing from the JCPOA.