Tehran calls for rapid lifting of sanctions as Vienna talks enter eighth round
Iranian nuclear program negotiations are unlikely to result in a major breakthrough, analysts told The Media Line, although progress can be made.
Talks are underway in Vienna to resuscitate the 2015 agreement between Iran and world powers to curb Iran’s nuclear program in return for the lifting of sanctions. The eighth round of the relaunched talks began this week.
“The tone of negotiators on both sides… is somehow more positive compared to previous rounds, so there is perhaps hope for progress,” said Hamidreza Azizi, a member of the German Institute for International Affairs and security in Berlin which focuses on Iran.
Iran’s foreign minister said a deal in the near future is possible, while the EU has only said there should be “a positive outcome”.
A Russian official at the talks, which began on Monday, tweeted that there had been “clear progress” and “results-oriented discussions.”
However, the United States has been more careful in its tone.
“There may have been some modest progress in the last round of talks, but it is in some ways too early to say how substantial that progress may have been. At a minimum, any progress, in our view, falls short of Iran’s accelerated nuclear milestones and is far too slow, ”US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.
Azizi told The Media Line that the biggest obstacles to reaching a deal were timing and guarantees.
The tone of negotiators on both sides … is a bit more positive compared to previous rounds, so there is perhaps hope for progress
In 2018, then-US President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal reached under his predecessor, Barack Obama.
China, France, Germany, Russia and the UK were also part of the deal.
Iran has continued to develop its nuclear program, insisting that it only wants to use nuclear technology for non-military purposes.
Tehran now wants to be reassured that the United States will not back down on a deal when there is a change of president.
“It’s justified but it’s unrealistic, of course, because there’s no real way for any kind of deal,” Azizi said.
There is also disagreement over when sanctions on Iran should be lifted, and Tehran has tried to make the resumption of oil exports a key focus of the negotiations.
After the United States withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, it reinstated sanctions against Iran, severely affecting its economy and in particular the key oil sector which faced a significant drop in exports.
Tehran has argued that sanctions should end before taking action on its nuclear program, but Washington insists the sanctions should only be lifted after limits are placed on Tehran’s nuclear program.
“The economy is in terrible shape and Iran really needs an agreement for the sanctions to be lifted and for Iran to have normal economic interactions with the world,” Azizi said.
Iran refuses to meet directly with US officials, frustrating Washington and placing the EU in a leading role in the negotiations.
“The European Union has acted as a mediator between Iran and the United States,” said Azizi, who added that Vienna is seen as a more neutral setting than some other European capitals.
Both sides are desperate to find some kind of solution to this crisis
Ryan Bohl, Middle East and North Africa analyst at Stratfor, told The Media Line that there was a lot of optimism at the start of the year when US President Joe Biden took office, but that it declined when the die-hard Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi arrived. to power and introduced more stringent requirements.
Domestic politics in the United States also make it more difficult to find an agreement.
Bohl said there was bipartisan pressure on Biden to come up with a deal that would be acceptable to Israel, which was against the deal.
Israel has argued for a tougher stance against Iran and said it will not allow the country to have nuclear weapons.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said of Iran’s nuclear program: “We certainly prefer to act through international cooperation, but if necessary, we will defend ourselves,” The Associated reported. Press.
The EU has warned that there were “weeks, not months” to reach a deal as Iran continues to build its nuclear program.
Despite these challenges, Bohl said there was optimism about making progress since neither the United States nor Iran want to go to war.
“Both sides are desperate to find some kind of solution to this crisis,” Bohl said.
“The devil then dwells on the details. Even though strategically both sides are pushed to find a compromise, that’s who compromises first and how much that delays so much, ”he said.