Patience is Needed

7 April 2021


Cogito Ergo Non Serviam

Talks to Restart Iran Nuke Deal Progress


The US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA], was among the most ill-advised actions of the Trump administration. Rather than boxing Iran's nuclear weapons program in for a decade and working to integrate Iran into the global order, the Trump team let Iran do as it wished on nukes and kept the ayatollahs outside the system, which they are eager to disrupt. Talks have begun on restoring the JCPOA, and all reports are they are going well. Patience is key.

The makings of a restoration of the deal have been there all along. The US and the other powers involved (Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia) want Iran to put its nuclear weapons program on ice. Iran would like all of the economic sanctions under which it labors to be removed. Both sides would view the lifting of sanctions in exchange for halting nuclear research as a win. The issue is how to get there.

The Iranians are unwilling to talk directly with the Americans at this stage, so the discussions in Vienna occurred through intermediaries. Mikhail Ulyanov, the Russian representative who is ambassador to international organizations in Vienna, has taken the lead. He has announced that two working groups have begun their own talks. The first group is tasked with how to get the sanctions undone. The second is focused on getting Iran to comply with the conditions of the JCPOA regarding its nuclear program.

Mr. Ulyanov announced the work has begun yesterday, while he cautioned that the restoration of the deal "will not happen immediately. It will take some time. How long? Nobody knows. The most important thing after today's meeting of the Joint Commission is that practical work toward achieving this goal has started."

Iran's deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi said in a statement after the talks that lifting U.S. sanctions would be "the first and most necessary step in reviving the JCPOA. The Islamic Republic of Iran is fully ready to stop its retaliation nuclear activity and return to its full commitments as soon as US sanctions are lifted and verified."

That, of course, is not acceptable to the US, which wants Iran's nuclear genie back in the bottle first. It also wants to get other Iranian matters addressed, such as Iran's missile program and its support for militias in Lebanon, Syria and Yemen. Iran stated that it wants to settle the nuclear issue first before paying any attention to these other affairs. Getting the two sides to move incrementally toward one another is the ultimate solution.

The New York Times reported, "On Monday, an Iranian government spokesman, Ali Rabiei, said that President Hassan Rouhani and the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, were in agreement about nuclear talks. 'Everything can happen really quickly in a series of independent but connected synchronized steps,' Mr. Rabiei said, according to official Iranian news media."

The EU's Enrique Mora called the talks "constructive" and he added, "There's unity and ambition for a joint diplomatic process with two expert groups on nuclear implementation and sanctions lifting. I will intensify separate contacts here in Vienna with all relevant parties, including the US."

As for the Americans, Ned Price of the State Department said that the talks were "a healthy step forward." At the same time, he cautioned, "we don't anticipate an early or immediate breakthrough, as these discussions, we fully expect, will be difficult."

When diplomats talk like this, when they say they are making progress and need time to get it right, getting a deal done is as likely as it gets. With any luck, sometime in the next year or two, the agreement will be back in effect.

© Copyright 2021 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.

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