Iranian party would re-enter the Vienna discussions with the goal of adopting a draft agreement soon after the Nowruz holiday, or Iranian New Year, last Sunday.Iranian party would re-enter the Vienna discussions with the goal of adopting a draft agreement soon after the Nowruz holiday, or Iranian New Year, last Sunday.
, the Iranian regime’s Foreign Minister, claimed during a joint press conference with his Syrian counterpart while visiting Damascus that negotiations in Vienna are closer than ever to restoring the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which the regime in Tehran began violating soon after the US pulled out of the agreement in 2018.
Since the start of the Vienna talks in April, public statements from all of the participants, including the US, have been overwhelmingly positive, despite Tehran’s unwillingness to let its negotiators meet with their American counterparts. Russian officials echoed Amir-recent Abdollahian’s assertion of hope when they anticipated that the Iranian party would re-enter the Vienna discussions with the goal of adopting a draft agreement soon after the Nowruz holiday, or Iranian New Year, last Sunday.
The US initially shared that optimism, but on Tuesday, State Department officials told the media that the US administration was “preparing equally” for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action’s (JCPOA) mutual renewal and its utter collapse.
According to State Department spokesperson Ned Price, those assertions had not been repeated at a high level for several months before he conceded on Monday that “an agreement is neither near nor certain.”
The next day, Price announced that “the onus is on Tehran to make difficult decisions,” and that the White House is not taking it for granted that Iranian leaders are both willing and capable of doing so.
During the most recent rounds of discussions, Iran has echoed that line numerous times. When Tehran’s senior negotiator Ali Bagheri-Kani left Vienna last month to speak with higher authorities, it was generally believed that the discussions were nearing their conclusion. When he returned, however, the Iranian team began admonishing the US to remove the terrorist designation imposed on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in 2019 as a condition for any new accord.
It’s probable that this has pushed the Biden administration’s readiness to make concessions to Tehran to its breaking point, prompting a return to previous talking points about a diplomatic collapse and “Plan B.”
Some Democrats have also expressed grave concerns, repeating their colleagues’ demand that any prospective agreement is brought to Congress for examination. As Tehran’s demands for an agreement have grown, so has the level of pushback from both sides of the political aisle in Washington, perhaps making it impossible or too politically costly for the White House to continue on its current course.
Iranian demands for the IRGC’s delisting could be a turning point in the Biden administration’s political calculations, as it appears to have prompted new public declarations from Democratic senators who may not have been very interested in the subject previously. In view of the IRGC’s very public record of terrorist activities and support of regional terrorist proxies, Josh Gottheimer, a Democratic congressman from New Jersey, spoke on Fox News on Tuesday to argue that delisting it “makes zero sense.”
Shontel Brown, a freshman Democrat from Ohio, told a news organization on Thursday that she “would rigorously analyze any announced deal to assess whether it will make the United States safer [and] increase regional stability.”
Brown also noted the JCPOA’s unsolved “shortfalls,” promising to “push” the administration to confront “Iran’s ballistic missile program or Iran’s backing for regional terrorist proxies like Hezbollah and Hamas.”
Of course, any arrangement that includes the IRGC’s delisting would be widely perceived as either ignoring or exacerbating these problems. The IRGC currently has sole control of the regime’s ballistic missile arsenal, and earlier this month it boasted of launching a second surveillance satellite into low Earth orbit, demonstrating its dedication to the continuous progress of pertinent missile technology.