BRUSSELS-In Vienna on Tuesday, the signatories of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal will be put together with seemingly simple tasks. They hope to restore compliance with the agreement to strictly control Iran’s nuclear enrichment to ensure that it cannot manufacture nuclear weapons in exchange for the removal of punitive economic sanctions.
Both Iran and the United States insist on returning to the “Joint Comprehensive Action Plan” or “JCPOA” agreement. However, nothing in this meeting is simple.
President Donald J. Trump withdrew the United States from the agreement in May 201
Part of Iran’s response was to substantially enrich uranium, exceed the limits of the agreement, build more advanced centrifuges, and take more active actions to support allies in the Middle East, such as Hezbollah, Hamas, and Shi’ites in Iraq. The militia and the Syrian Bashar government.Assad
Therefore, returning to the agreement reached six years ago may be more difficult than many people realize.
What are you talking about?
The Vienna talks are aimed at the simultaneous return of Iran and the United States to comply with the road map stipulated in the 2015 agreement. Since Trump refused to participate in the United States, it has been in danger of collapse.
The agreement is the result of years of negotiations with Iran. Under the auspices of the European Union, Britain, France and Germany welcomed Iran for the first time, and other permanent members of the UN Security Council also joined Russia, China and the United States.
But it was not until the United States, under the leadership of President Barack Obama, had a secret dialogue with Iran and agreed that Iran could enrich uranium (albeit with guarantees) that a breakthrough was made. Even then, many people in Congress and Israel still generally criticized the agreement for being too weak, and they believed that Iran’s possible possession of nuclear weapons (Iran has always denied this desire) is an existential threat.
The Europeans tried to maintain the deal, but after Trump resumed the US sanctions lifted under the terms of the deal, it proved unable to provide Iran with the economic benefits it deserved. Based on the global power of the U.S. dollar and the U.S. sanctions imposed by the U.S. banking system, European and other companies cannot do business with Iran. Mr. Trump has increased the pressure by adding more sanctions.
Iran responded in various ways, including attacks on shipping and US allies in Iraq, but more importantly, it restarted uranium enrichment activities at a higher level and banned centrifuges under the agreement. The estimated time required for Iran to produce enough enriched uranium to produce nuclear weapons has now been reduced from one year (this is the time the agreement hopes to keep) to several months. Iran has also manufactured the uranium metal necessary for warheads, which is also banned by the agreement, and actively supports its allies in the Middle East, including many allies considered by the West as terrorist organizations.
In further pressure tactics, Iran narrowly explained the inspection requirements of the agreement and refused to answer the International Atomic Energy Agency’s question about radioactive particles discovered by inspectors at locations that have never been declared by Tehran as part of its nuclear program. . Iran agreed in late February to continue recording information on its inspection equipment for three months, but did not allow the IAEA to enter. Iran says that if economic sanctions are not lifted at that time, this information will be deleted, which will make the world ignorant of the key parts of the nuclear program.
Iran insists that it can quickly resume compliance with this agreement, but hopes that the United States will do so first. The Biden administration expressed the hope that Iran will go first.
What are the obstacles?
Trust is a big issue. The Iranian regime was established by a revolution more than forty years ago, which replaced the strong supervision of the pastor and supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) supported by the United States. Shah, the king of iran. Ayatollah only reluctantly agreed to the 2015 deal with the American “Great Satan”. After Trump withdrew, Khamenei’s mistrust deepened.
Mr. Trump also imposed many economic sanctions on Iran beyond the initial cancellation of the deal, in an attempt to “maximum pressure” to force Iran to negotiate stricter terms. Iranian officials now say that as many as 1,600 US sanctions must be lifted, about half of which were imposed by Mr. Trump. Some are directed at terrorism and human rights violations, rather than nuclear issues. Repealing some of them will cause opposition in Congress.
Many people in Washington, let alone people in Israel and Europe, do not believe Iran’s claims that Iran has never used nuclear weapons and will not do so.
The further resumption of the agreement is more complicated by its “sunset” clause or time limit, which will enable Iran to resume certain nuclear enrichment activities. The Biden administration hopes to conduct further negotiations with Iran to extend these time limits and restrict Iran’s missile programs and other activities.
Iran stated that it only hopes that the United States will also restore the agreements it has left before returning, including the lifting of sanctions. So far, it has refused any further negotiations.
Even under the Islamic regime, Iran has politics. Presidential elections will be held in June, and the candidates will be approved by the clergy. The current president, Hassan Rouhani, cannot be re-elected, while the foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, is considered relatively moderate and has negotiated a 2015 nuclear agreement. But powerful Iranian forces opposed the agreement, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The moderates hope that rapid progress in lifting economic sanctions will help them conduct presidential elections; hope that the hardliners will oppose any rapid agreement in Vienna that might benefit the moderates.
Iran has lived under Trump’s severe sanctions for three years, and has survived popular dissatisfaction and even protests. The hardliners will argue that another six months is unlikely.
What is the structure of the meeting?
The Conference of Senior Diplomats is an official meeting of the Joint Committee on the Agreement, convened by the European Union as its chairman. Since the United States left the agreement, its representatives will not be in the conference room, but somewhere nearby. Diplomats from Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and Iran will meet with the European Union president and begin discussions on how to revitalize the agreement.
Iran refused to meet face-to-face with American diplomats. Therefore, the Europeans suggested that they either meet with the Americans and make suggestions, or the Iranians will leave the room before the Americans enter. This indirect dialogue process may take time.
But European diplomats say that in a few days, the job will be left to the Vienna working group to deal with complex political and technical issues. If a rough agreement is reached on the simultaneous restoration of compliance, it is expected that Iranian and US officials will meet to finalize the details.
What is the prospect of success?
The talks may take a long time, and some in Washington at least hope to reach an agreement in principle within the next few months that will bind any new Iranian government after the June election.
But some European diplomats worry that too much time has passed, and that the deal is actually dead, and can be used as a reference for fundamentally new negotiations.
Therefore, the timetable and prospects for success are unclear.