The Iranian regime’s spokesperson, Ali Bagheri-Kani spoke to international media over the weekend and stated that good progress had been made in the negotiations in Vienna to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal agreement, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
While Bagheri-Kani’s remarks were optimistic, it seems that since the talks in Vienna resumed after a five-month delay, that optimism is said to be reflective of the regime’s hope that the Western signatories of the deal will give into their demands.
That position did not appear to have changed by Monday when those Western interlocutors unanimously contradicted Bagheri-Kani’s statements. The US, Britain, France, and Germany, all seem to be maintaining their brand of optimism, but only insofar as they are leaving open the door for serious progress at some point soon.
The Western powers have agreed that any chances of this progress weigh on whether the regime is willing to change their posture during the talks, which has hardened considerably since their new president Ebrahim Raisi was selected in June.
Bagheri-Kani has suggested that any term agreements from previous sessions of negotiations can be revisited in the presence of the regime’s new demands. However, these new proposals are inconsistent with not only the JCPOA but with the outcomes of previous talks.
As the talks resumed last month, Iranian representatives made it clear that their demand for sanctions relief extends to any that were re-imposed or newly imposed when the U.S. withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018.
These include not just those sanctions that were previously suspended under the terms of the agreement but also those that were later imposed for reasons unrelated to Iran’s nuclear activity.
At the regime’s request, the JCPOA is not addressing any other topic, regardless of whether it is connected to their nuclear program, so despite objections from many policymakers, the U.S. and the European signatories of the agreement have honored the regime’s restrictions. However, the regime has now demanded that the U.S. should remove sanctions from other things, unrelated to the nuclear issues, like their brutal crackdown of the November 2019 uprising in Iran.
While the regime’s representative has stated that the U.S. is near succumbing to their demands, the U.S. has vehemently denied this position. Before the talks resumed, officials of the U.S. State Department held meetings with their British, French, and German counterparts to discuss how to place additional pressure on the Iranian regime if they continued to obstruct the resumption of the negotiations.
Each of the Western participants in the JCPOA is currently more willing to entertain the possibility of that failure than they ever were before.
Back in early 2020, the regime announced that they would no longer abide by any of the deal’s terms. As a result, a dispute resolution process was triggered by the European JCPOA signatories, which could have re-imposed United Nations sanctions on the regime’s nuclear activities, but the top officials of the European Union decided to draw out the resolution process indefinitely rather than recognize that the deal was failing and to let go of it.
A joint statement was made by the European signatories on Monday which acknowledged that “Time is running out,” to resolve and rekindle the nuclear deal, and “Without swift progress, in light of Iran’s fast-forwarding of its nuclear program, the JCPOA will very soon become an empty shell.”
The fact is that the JCPOA has been an ‘empty shell’ for a long time and the Iranian regime has been buying time to pursue its nuclear project. Now that the E3 finally join in declaring the JCPOA as an ‘empty shell’, it is time to trigger the long-overdue snapback mechanism and re-impose the United Nations sanctions on the Iranian regime’s nuclear program.