Islamic Republic of Iran and E3 + 2 countries still party to the JCPOA met today in Vienna, Austria to discuss the prospects of reviving the deal. Meanwhile, the U.S. waits on the outcome to decide its next step.
Though it would appear that it took a lot of soul searching for the Americans and specifically the Biden’s administration to come to the negotiations without making unreasonable demands, the U.S. is still trying to beat around the bush when it comes down to the question of Iranian’s nuclear program. Instead of eating the humble pie and accepting responsibility for his predecessor’s faults, Biden instead took a small piece, agreeing to oversee the talks taking place between E3 + 2 and Iran in Vienna.
The U.S. has already dispatched its negotiating team to Vienna and even though they won’t be meeting with the subject of the discussion directly, the sway they hold over that of the E3 position will obviously be considerable. Given the initiative taken by Biden to be there, it is unlikely of his side to want to sabotage the talks. After all, it was Biden himself who finally took the first steps to reignite the talks with Iran under the cover of their allies. Furthermore, Biden could also secure a huge diplomatic victory over his critics with such an accomplishment at the time when almost everyone in the U.S. is busy addressing Covid-19 and domestic affairs. If nothing else, even a small change might serve as a distraction for America.
In addition to the U.S. willingness, other major players seem to have their own reasons for wanting a resolution to the situation with Iran. China for example concluded a 25 year-long strategic partnership with Iran just recently and any resolution that would ease its access to Iran is perceived favourably by its leaders. Russia too is a long-time associate of Iran which would of course benefit directly from any change. On one hand, both Russian and Chinese interests in having easier access to Iran overlap a lot and on the other, they could have easier coordination with Iran concerning Middle-East affairs as soon as the deal restores normalcy, giving Iran and its associated entities the legality to act within the region.
Having said that, there are unknowable factors in play which might steer the talks in an undesirable direction. For starters, Europeans don’t enjoy being bossed around by the U.S. anymore and no matter how hard he tries, Europeans will have a voice of their own in the talks. That voice of course might be influenced by different agendas and lobbyists, many of whom are on the payroll of Saudi Arabia or Israel. During the Obama era, France was the active saboteur of negotiations and this time around it appears that Germany is going to play that role. In addition to that, Iran might not also be willing to give too many concessions, if any at all, after seeing the Americans’ duplicity back in Trump’s era. In any way, there seems to be not much more time for Biden to get things back where they were.
In less than three months from now Iran will be having its next presidential election and thanks to American’s repudiation of their pledge, hardliners and hawks are more likely to get elected which in turn would mean greater troubles for Americans and their stationed forces in the Middle-East. Biden must now understand that Iranians would never buy into his promises again and that would mean there will be no “JCPOA +” whatsoever. If stability is what he desires, then a costly withdrawal would do him much better than a pyrrhic victory which leaves him vulnerable at home. Either way, the clock is ticking and time stops for no one, so it might be the now or never moment for the U.S. and specifically Biden’s administration.