It appears that the Vienna talks between Iran and world powers have been postponed again due to major differences. Unfortunately time seems to be running out for both sides and if any meaningful change is going to come out of this, it better come soon.
After so much talk and so much debate, it seems that the nuclear talks to restore the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) have been suspended or at least stalled once again. While initially there was much hope that this fifth round of talks between Iran and E3+2 along with the United States might be the last one, it seems that complications once again arose between the negotiating parties. On Monday, Iran’s top negotiator during these rounds, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Aragchi, said that despite having drafted the majority of the text, there now have reached a point where both sides have to address the “obvious differences in opinion” and that it might be necessary for each of them to return to their respective capitals for further consultations.
In addition to the complications in Vienna, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) published a report on the same day, claiming that the Iranian government has failed to thoroughly explain some nuclear sites that were supposedly not properly introduced to the agency. According to the Iranians however, all this talk about uranium traces found at these undisclosed locations is just another political ploy to stall for time. To counter their latest ploy the head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, wrote a letter of complaint to IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi, saying that so far Iran has complied with all its commitments and political games as such would serve no purpose other than prolonging the resolution.
Although IAEA and E3+2 claim that it is mainly because of the technical issues that the Vienna talks have been postponed, analysts argue that it is actually because of the political circumstances that they have decided to extend the talks. Just as you might have heard, the Iranian presidential election is right around the corner. On Friday, June 18 the Iranians will elect their next president for a four year term and apparently E3+2 don’t want to put their money on an administration that is soon to be replaced with another one; particularly one which is predicted to act in an exact opposite manner of its predecessor. For all we know, the current frontrunner in Iran is anything but trusting of Westerners and that bodes bad for those like the Americans , thinking they can take Iran for a spin once again.
Back in 2018, US President Donald Trump single handedly pulled out of the JCPOA at Israel’s behest and started a campaign of “maximum pressure” policy against the country. Following Joe Biden’s inauguration, the US government once again attempted to make a return to the deal, an effort seriously hampered by a string of coordinated attacks against Iran’s nuclear program aimed at sabotaging the talks between Iran and E3+2. To their dismay however, Iran responded by enriching its uranium beyond the agreed amount. Now with the next election on the horizon, there is an increasing concern on the side of Westerners, thinking that with the rise of the conservatives in Iran there could be a chance that Iran might return Trump’s favour with a move of its own.
These past weeks in the Middle-East were quite eventful. From Syria’s presidential election to Israel and the coup against Netanyahu, things were rather rocky for everyone. Still, for all we know, as a regional power, Iran’s decisions will have far greater ramifications for the region than all else. So far, Iran played by the rules but in the end its trust was rewarded with disloyalty. Anyday from now, Iran could very well steer back into its old ways, doing what it wants to do without any regard for what the world powers want from it. If this is what the E3+2 and US want then they probably will get it. However they hope for a real change then they should make the effort to it before the time runs out.