Western officials’ hopes for reviving the Iran nuclear deal are dwindling. This is forcing them to weigh how to limit Iran's nuclear program even as Russia's invasion of Ukraine has divided major powers.
While they have not completely given up on the pact, there is a growing belief it may be beyond salvation.
“They are not yanking the IV out of the patient's arm ... but I sense little expectation that there is a positive way forward,” one source told Reuters under the conditions of anonymity.
Four Western diplomats echoed the sentiment that the deal is withering away.
The pact appeared on the brink of revival in early March when the European Union, which coordinates the talks, invited ministers to Vienna to seal the deal. But talks were thrown into disarray over last-minute Russian demands and whether Washington might remove the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from its Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) list.
The Russian demands appear to have been finessed but the IRGC designation has not, with the impending Nov. 8 US midterm elections making it hard for US President Joe Biden to buck domestic opposition to remove it.
Reuters’ report was published a day after another report by the Wall Street Journal about European attempts to take a new step to save the talks from collapsing.
The report cites a phone call that took place between the European Union foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, and his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, about 10 days ago.
Borrell had warned the Iranians of the consequences of prolonging the negotiations, suggesting that his deputy and coordinator of the talks, Enrique Mora, should be sent again to Tehran to break the current deadlock in the diplomatic track.
So far, Iran seems unwilling to budge on the FTO removal.
“That is our redline and we will not cave on that,” an Iranian security official told Reuters.