© Reuters. File photo: The Iranian flag flies in front of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna, Austria, on May 23, 2021. REUTERS / Leonhard Foeger / File Photo
Authors: John Ireland, Francois Murphy and Parissa Hafez
PARIS (Reuters)-World powers and Iran returned to Vienna on Monday for the final rescue effort of the 2015 nuclear agreement, but few expected a breakthrough, as Tehran’s atomic activities are booming, apparently in order to gain influence on the West .
Diplomats said that the time to reinstate the agreement is running out. The then U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned the agreement in 2018, which angered Iran and caused other relevant world powers-Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia are frustrated.
Six rounds of indirect talks were held between April and June. The new round begins after a hiatus triggered by the election of a new Iranian president, Ebrahim Raisi, a die-hard cleric.
Tehran’s new negotiating team has made demands that US and EU diplomats deem unrealistic. They insist that all sanctions imposed by the United States and Europe since 2017, including sanctions unrelated to their nuclear programs, should be lifted.
At the same time, the conflict between Tehran and the UN Atomic Energy Supervisory Agency, which oversees nuclear programs, has escalated. Iran continues its enrichment program, and the International Atomic Energy Agency stated that its inspectors have been cruelly treated and refused to reinstall surveillance cameras in locations that it believes are critical to resuming transactions with global powers.
A Western diplomat involved in the negotiations said: “They are technically good enough that they can change the fundamental relationship with the West so that they can have a more equal dialogue in the future.”
Two European diplomats said that Iran seems to be just trying to buy time to accumulate more equipment and expertise.
Western diplomats said they will go to Monday’s talks, provided that they will continue where they left off in June. They warned that if Iran insists on its extremist stance and does not resume cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, then they will have to quickly reconsider their options.
Iran’s main negotiator and the foreign minister reiterated on Friday that the complete lifting of sanctions will be the only thing on the table at the Vienna meeting.
“If this is the position that Iran continues to take on Monday, then I don’t see a negotiated solution,” said one of the European diplomats.
Several diplomats stated that Iran is now four to six weeks away from the “breakthrough time” and that it needs to collect enough fissile material for a single nuclear weapon, although they warned that it is about two years away from turning it into a weapon. time.
If the negotiations fail, the United States and its allies are likely to first confront Iran in the IAEA by convening an emergency meeting next month.
However, they also hope that when initially seeking a diplomatic option, they will try to put Russia, which has political influence over Iran, on their side and China, which provides economic respite for Tehran through the purchase of oil.
According to diplomats, one of the options proposed by Washington is to negotiate an indefinite temporary agreement with Tehran until a permanent agreement is reached. However, they said it will take time and they are not sure whether Iran has any interest in it.
Eurasian analyst Henry Roma said in a report: “Iran can calculate that its unfettered nuclear technological advancement and the production of unsupervised centrifuges will put greater pressure on the West and require it to quickly give way. For negotiation.”
“But this may have the opposite effect, indicating that the new Iranian team has no interest in resolving the nuclear issue and accelerating the transition to more coercive politics next year.”