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The Nuclear Deal… Disruption Is No Longer a Policy

The Nuclear Deal… Disruption Is No Longer a Policy

Friday, 10 June, 2022 - 10:00

It is extremely clear that the draft resolution that the Western states (US, France, Britain, and Germany) put forward to the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency condemning Tehran for consistently breaching the enrichment levels that had been agreed to in the 2015 nuclear deal, is technical on the surface but political at the core.

After the negotiations paused two months ago, when it seemed that an agreement had been eminent, with the technical teams having completed their task and put the final touches on the documents of a new/old agreement, the Iranians made adjustments that postponed the signing. The Iranian negotiators couldn’t return to Tehran with the Revolutionary Guards still on sanctioned by the US and on its terror list.

While the negotiating teams in Vienna returned to their countries several months ago, secretive and open diplomatic communication has resumed. This resumption is thanks to some European side’s apprehensions about the potential repercussions that political developments could have for the talks. The Ukrainian-Russian war tops the list, as well as the US Midterms, Israel’s increased pressure, and Iran’s regional interventions (the IRGC’s job).

The Europeans are worried that some of the progress that had been made over the past year of negotiations might be lost, with European Union Foreign Policy Commissioner Josep Borrell finally admitting that what has already been achieved over the previous rounds is at risk. He shed doubt on a new nuclear agreement being concluded in Vienna, saying that the longer negotiations go on for, the more difficult agreeing to a deal becomes.

Two sides are making it difficult, the Iranians and Americans. They are pushing the negotiations in divergent directions, with Iran making impossible demands on the one hand, and Washington, because of domestic and international hurdles, failing to meet them on the other.

European mediation failed to turn the corner with the IRGC, and it could not keep the US flexible. Although the draft resolution Washington backed does not hint at referring the Iranian nuclear program to the Security Council if it fails to cooperate with the Agency and reveal its secret nuclear activities, the timing leaves no doubt about its political significance. It is intended to put more pressure on Iran between President Biden’s upcoming visit to the region and the Midterms in October.

What makes the statement of the Western countries is that it linked the technical to and the political.

“Iran’s nuclear advances are not only dangerous and illegal, they risk unraveling the deal that we have so carefully crafted together to restore the JCPOA. The continuation of Research and Development and extensive use of advanced centrifuges are permanently improving Iran’s enrichment capabilities. Iran is now enriching with over 2000 powerful advanced centrifuges, which can enrich many times faster than the model permitted under the JCPOA. The more Iran is advancing and accumulating knowledge with irreversible consequences, the more difficult it is to come back to the JCPOA”.

This means the Western countries have decided to shuffle the cards at the negotiating table with Iran. Resuming negotiations from where they left off, with the question of the IRGC, is no longer possible. In fact, highlighting Iran’s secret nuclear activities will open the floodgates to technical minutia at a time when it is trying to achieve political gains, which pushed Washington to blame Tehran responsible for the failure of the negotiations for a new nuclear.

In a statement of a meeting of the Board of Governors, the International Atomic Energy Agency Washington stressed: “We are prepared to conclude a deal on the basis of the understandings we negotiated with our European Allies in Vienna over many months. Such a deal has been available since March, but we can only conclude negotiations and implement it if Iran drops its additional demands that are extraneous to the JCPOA.”

And so, while it is unlikely that the United States has given up on diplomacy with Iran succeeding in crystalizing a new agreement or reviving the old one with some modifications, it seems that Iran’s behavior and demands prompted even its friends within the Biden administration and some Europeans to abandon flexibility and play their cards. The pressure will continue to mount until Tehran abandons its impossible demands.

However, Tehran responded by cutting off some of the International Atomic Energy Organization’s surveillance cameras, indicating an escalation that begins in Tehran, passes through Erbil, and may end at Lebanon’s maritime borders.

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