Nuclear negotiations with Iran: people are talking again

As of: 11/29/2021 7:01 p.m.

The tense restart of the nuclear negotiations with Iran was also accompanied by positive signals: all parties were ready to talk. Nevertheless, the positions are currently still far apart.

By Wolfgang Vichtl, ARD-Studio Vienna

Dark limousines, serious-looking diplomats behind darkened windows: Ringstrasse diplomacy in Vienna. The negotiators of Iran, the diplomats from the co-signatory countries Germany, France, Great Britain, also from Russia and China drive up in front of the Vienna Palais Coburg, the hotel where the agreement was concluded in 2015.

Wolfgang Vichtl
ARD studio Vienna

At that time the Americans were there, Barack Obama was President. The agreement with the complicated name of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA for short, was supposed to ease the situation in the Middle East. Above all, it was supposed to prevent Iran from being able to build an atomic bomb. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was supposed to monitor it sits in Vienna, that’s why they meet here on the Danube.

Nuclear weapons material within three months

The détente between Iran and the USA is history. US President Trump got out of the deal in 2018. After a brief period of shame, Iran stepped up its nuclear program significantly. Experts say: it would now only be three weeks before Iran could produce enough fissile material for nuclear weapons. A short while ago it would have taken another year. Even then, there is still another way to go to a bomb, but some already consider Iran to be a nuclear emerging market.

That is why the talks in Vienna could be so important, the diplomatic attempt to revive the agreement unilaterally terminated by the USA – somehow. An agreement that Iran no longer adhered to either, after a period of shame. The nuclear program has been ramped up again, fissile material is enriched far more than allowed in the agreement, the inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are largely denied access to the laboratories in the production facilities in Iran.

But: people are talking again, even if not everyone is talking to everyone. Some sit at a table in the square in a splendid golden hall in the Palais Coburg, the Americans next door in another hotel. A lot has changed. US President Trump has been voted out of office, but hardliners are now in power in Tehran.

Iran calls for an end to all sanctions

The Iranian delegation: many. Including many who at the time were among the sharpest critics of the agreement that the Iranian government signed at the time. Iran’s chief negotiator, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani, is also considered a hardliner. “Iran is entering the talks with great seriousness; our main concern is the end of the illegal and oppressive sanctions,” Kani said before the talks in Vienna.

That is the core demand of Iran in this round of talks: All sanctions imposed on Iran by the USA and the EU since 2017 must be lifted again. All, not just those related to the nuclear program.

“Unrealistic” – so the reaction of both American and European diplomats in Vienna, because: it is also about sanctions that are not directed against the nuclear program, but against the support of terrorists.

USA threatens to “close the door”

The chief negotiator of the USA, Robert Malley, countered even before the talks: Iran just wanted to buy time and continue its nuclear program. He told the American radio station NPR: “If Iran does not come back into the agreement, if it continues, escalates further, continues to expand its nuclear program, then the door will be closed.” Iran will then again be the cause of a new crisis involving the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

A lot of work for the diplomats in Vienna to mediate between these fronts.

Austria: nuclear talks resumed, fronts hardened

Wolfgang Vichtl, ARD Wien, 29.11.2021 · 18:03

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.