Iran’s chief negotiator says burden is on West, not Iran, for subsequent move in nuclear talks

It’s a deja vu second in Vienna, the place talks between Iran and world powers have resumed to revive the 2015 nuclear settlement. Aside from the lockdown, the freezing temperatures, the brand new faces, and a pinch of pessimism and warning, nothing appear to be totally different from the previous days — no less than in precept. In follow, nonetheless, these are totally different days, resembling a mix between the pragmatism of the 2013-2015 talks and the aggressiveness of the 2008-2013 negotiations.

Ali Bagheri Kani, Iran’s new prime negotiator, made his debut in Vienna. The man who was once a fierce opponent of the 2015 nuclear deal, recognized formally because the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is himself the one speaking to world powers in what’s seen as a mutual understanding to revive the identical accord.

When this correspondent met him in Vienna, he was very cautious to not present any type of pessimism towards the trail, although he was clear that although negotiations are carried out inside a framework of give and take between all events, his nation gave what it ought to give in 2015, and it’s now the opposite aspect’s flip to carry one thing new to the desk.

But the desk of 2021 is not the identical as that of 2015. While the tabletop might seem the identical, the 4 legs carrying it have been going by way of severe modifications over the previous years. The developments that adopted the withdrawal of former US President Donald Trump from the deal in May 2018 — together with the sanctions that have been imposed and reimposed on Iran by the United States and the developments in Iran’s nuclear program that noticed it enriching uranium as much as 20% and later 60% purity — make it very troublesome to see the identical deal in place. Add to that the regional modifications which have been happening. When I requested Bagheri Kani whether or not he’s in Vienna to revive a useless deal, he made it clear that “the cost and the price for reviving the deal and sustaining the deal were paid for by Iran because the United States pulled out of the agreement and completely violated the deal and the Europeans failed in practice in showing full compliance within the JCPOA, and it depends on the behavior of the other parties, the European’s full compliance and the US return to the deal, for the deal to be revived.”

The principal query in Vienna is to what extent do the Iranians really feel the urgency of reaching a deal when the very fact is that they assume the opposite aspect is the one that ought to. Given the most recent bulletins and developments within the Iranian nuclear program, Tehran appears to wish to add to the world powers’ considerations over its program by ramping up enrichment to greater ranges utilizing superior centrifuges.

Reports that Iran’s breakout time is lowering from a yr following the 2015 deal to a month or much less within the present time provides to the considerations. Adding to that the utmost stress marketing campaign and all of the sanctions imposed on Tehran, it makes it very troublesome for the United States and different world powers to up the stress because it’s already at its peak, thus giving Iranians extra motive to not really feel the urgency.

However, as delegations left Vienna for consultations within the capitals carrying with them two draft proposals from the Iranian aspect, it grew to become clear that the highway to a nuclear settlement goes to be lengthy and bumpy and might’t be utterly remoted from regional dialogue paths which can be already open.

A senior Arab diplomat who spoke to Al-Monitor on situation of anonymity pressured that the extra the nuclear talks approach ending the extra that is going to have its affect on how the nations within the area are going to interact with Iran. He added, “This would give the West’s regional allies a stronger position when it comes to talking to Iran, with the US distancing itself gradually from day to day Middle East politics.”

Following the seventh spherical of talks in Vienna, the United Arab Emirate’s nationwide safety adviser, Tahnoon Bin Zayed, visited Tehran the place he met prime officers together with President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and Iran’s secretary of the Higher National Security Council Ali Shamkhani. The go to got here lower than two weeks after prime negotiator Bagheri Kani’s fast go to to Abu Dhabi on Nov. 24, the place he met senior Emirati officers. Without giving additional particulars, a supply who’s acquainted with the UAE-Iran strains of connection advised Al-Monitor that these visits are linked to the nuclear talks.

Information acquired by Al-Monitor signifies that the UAE and Iran mentioned over the previous months how Abu Dhabi might assist in the method of transferring Iranian property each time there’s an settlement on that between Tehran and the world powers, and in coordination with the United States.

There can be hypothesis that the Emiratis wish to play a sure position within the nuclear mediation between the United States and Iran.

“When the tension between Iran and the US peaked in 2019-2020, the UAE was caught in the fire,” the Arab diplomat who spoke to Al-Monitor defined. He added that it’s not solely Abu Dhabi that’s conscious of the value the area goes to pay in case of any new pressure. “The Gulf nations’ precedence now’s the financial system — the much less the strain the higher. There are large initiatives happening; add to that the truth that the administration in Washington desires to see a secure area because it will get much less concerned.”

There are many indications {that a} regional reconciliation, or no less than an try for cohabitation, is in course of. The regional dialogue in Iraq between Saudi Arabia and Iran is one signal of this new approach; the reconciliation between Qatar and its Gulf neighbors and Egypt is one other. Rapprochement between Turkey and the UAE, in addition to the primary go to of a UAE overseas minister to Syria in a decade, provides to the proof.

But the entire course of wouldn’t have began with out the change that passed off within the United States in late 2020. “That was the main catalyst for the change, or else things would have went in a different direction,” the seasoned Arab diplomat concluded.

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