UN hopes to save Iran nuclear deal
NEW NUKE TALKS? Iranian President-elect Ebrahim Raisi gives a press conference at a polling station in the capital Tehran on June 18, 2021 (June 19 in Manila). AFP PHOTO
TEHRAN: After months of difficult negotiations, can the United States and Iran find a way to save the 2015 nuclear deal?
Next week’s annual summit at the United Nations may offer clues as Iran’s new radical government makes its international debut.
After President Joe Biden took office in January, the United States and Iran began indirect negotiations in Vienna through intermediaries from the European Union and the countries that remain in the agreement – Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China.
Former President Donald Trump withdrew in 2018 from the deal brokered by his predecessor Barack Obama, arguing that it did not address other concerns about Iran, including his support for regional militants who target allies from the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia.
The deal promised Iran economic relief for its sharp reduction in nuclear work, but Trump instead imposed sweeping sanctions on Tehran, including a unilateral US ban on oil exports.
Negotiations have advanced modestly but have stalled since June as Iran insists on lifting all sanctions. The Biden administration has said it is only willing to review measures taken in response to the nuclear program.
Iran’s new ultraconservative president, Ebrahim Raisi, entered in early August and put an extremist in charge of the negotiations, replacing the more moderate team of his predecessor Hassan Rouhani who sought a better relationship with the West.
Raisi will make his international debut with a speech Tuesday to the United Nations General Assembly – but like many leaders, he will appear via video due to Covid-19 precautions.
Iran’s new foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, will visit New York, but no meeting with the United States is scheduled.
“We haven’t made direct plans for bilateral meetings while they’re here, but that doesn’t mean we don’t see the value in having discussions with the Iranians,” the ambassador said. American at the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield. .
But indirect diplomacy is expected as Europeans see the new Iranian team. The American interlocutor on Iran, Rob Malley, recently visited Moscow where he spoke of “constructive” meetings.
In contrast, a European diplomat said China, Iran’s main trading partner, was increasingly seeking to protect Tehran. Amir-Abdollahian suggested in late August that negotiations in Vienna would not resume for two or three months, although some observers expect talks sooner.
What remains uncertain is whether Tehran will stick to the same red lines as in June or whether it will further harden its position, said Ali Vaez, an Iranian expert at the International Crisis Group.
“The United States is very close to their bottom line. I don’t think there is much more room for maneuver for the Biden administration,” Vaez said. “And so, if the Iranians try to make a harder deal, it is essentially a stalemate formula.” AFP