Last week saw the seventh round of talks to discuss restoring the 2015 Iran nuclear deal take place in Vienna with barely any progress coming to light over the five-day event. Instead, the negotiations seemed to take a step back with the Iranian regime’s spokesman, Ali Bagheri Kani stating that the regime wished to revisit the terms agreed upon during the previous round of discussions.
The delay in negotiations following the last round occurred because Ebrahim Raisi was appointed the regime’s latest president. It was expected that Raisi’s rise to power would signal the start of more aggressive policies and practices, and while he settled into his new role, his administration deflected the issue until recently.
The patience of Western negotiating partners noticeably wore thin during that time, and after meeting in Washington, representatives from Britain, France, and Germany expressed consensus on the need to adopt an alternative approach if the Iranian regime continued its delays.
As stated by the NCRI’s Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman, Mohammad Mohaddessin, the regime stalling tactics are simply to allow them to buy time to continue the deceive the international community while they secretly advance their nuclear weapons program.
Following the conclusion of last week’s discussions, the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that “Iran right now does not seem to be serious about doing what’s necessary to return to compliance.”
Even before the Raisi administration took over, Tehran had repeatedly declared that it expected the European Union to exert pressure on the US leading to the wholesale suspension of economic sanctions. Since the regime’s presidential transition, it has become entirely clear that this demand is not limited to nuclear-related sanctions but also includes those addressing terrorist acts and human rights abuses.
The regime has indicated that they will only commit to a return to compliance with the nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) if the U.S. agrees to relieve them from the sanctions placed upon them. As this demand was never going to be fulfilled, instead of walking away from the recent talks with no clear progress, the Western signatories should have taken the opportunity to abandon the existing agreement and instead adopt a new strategy.
It is expected that the eighth round of talks is set to be scheduled, but what will come from those talks is further unanswered questions. It appears that the JCPOA is completely not fit for purpose, but the Western powers are unwilling to let it go. Ahead of the recent round of talks, it was claimed that Iran would need to face consequences for their stalling tactics, but nothing has been done yet. The only foreseeable option is to restore sanctions and increase foreign pressure on the regime
Secretary Blinken’s public frustration with Tehran’s actions last week may signal the administration’s potential willingness to follow through on its promise of enhanced pressure and consequences for the regime. But for the time being, the JCPOA signatories appear poised to continue treading the same path by scheduling yet another round of ‘negotiations’ in which Tehran has flatly refused to negotiate.