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Salem Alketbi

Where do things stand in the Vienna negotiations?

الاثنين - 07 يونيو 2021

Mon - 07 Jun 2021

The eyes of regional and international political and security circles have recently turned to what is happening inside the occupied Palestinian territories. Meanwhile, the Vienna negotiations remain the top priority and concern of President Joe Biden’s administration.

According to official statements, the White House wants to reach an agreement on a return to the nuclear deal before the Iranian presidential election. Official evidence confirms a convergence between Iranian and US positions in these indirect negotiations, mediated by the Europeans.

However, the limits of this rapprochement remain unknown. All parties keep the negotiations discreet and confidential. This was the case during the years-long negotiations that led to the signing of the 2015 agreement. Pressure from the Iranian mullah regime on the Biden administration may be paying off.

This is especially so since uranium enrichment has been increased to 60 percent. IAEA reports have already confirmed this. The UN agency has even found that Iran has slightly more fertile uranium than previously thought due to “fluctuations” in the process. Samples taken by IAEA inspectors last April showed that the enrichment level was 63%.

I am convinced that the mullahs are exerting carefully calculated escalating pressure on the atmosphere of the Vienna negotiations. They are using all the tactics they know how to deploy in such circumstances.

This involves role-playing. Mojtaba Zonnour, chairman of Iran’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, has threatened to obfuscate Iran’s nuclear program if the Vienna talks fail to reach a conclusion by May 23. That means shutting down surveillance cameras placed by IAEA inspectors inside Iranian nuclear facilities.

Zonnour felt that nothing new happened in Vienna. The talks have become draining, he said. Yet, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had confirmed progress in the talks.

Restrictions are being placed on IAEA inspectors under the pretext of a law passed by the Shura Council that encourages the government to accelerate nuclear activity. This is a strong pressure card of the mullahs’ regime. The point is to put pressure on the US and get as many concessions as possible before the Iranian presidential elections in mid-June.

A technical corollary of the IAEA’s dealings with the mullah regime is that agreements with it are often in its interest. It has the upper hand in its application. The latest agreement: monitoring IAEA cameras inside Iranian nuclear facilities for up to three months.

But most importantly, no recordings will be delivered to the Agency during this period. So, in the event of a dispute between the parties, the Agency lacks evidence to support any conclusion that could condemn the mullahs. The statements of the Iranian leadership undoubtedly show great confidence in a successful return to the nuclear deal as dictated by Tehran.