Negotiations to return to Iranian nuclear deal in recent weeks have noticeably stalled. The main reason for this is the discrepancy between the positions of Tehran and Washington on the status of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which is extremely important for Iran both from a military and economic point of view.
In April 2019, the United States recognized the IRGC as a terrorist organization. Now Iran is demanding the cancellation of this decision. The United States, on the other hand, states that it will not unilaterally remove the Corps from the list of terrorist organizations, while at the same time not completely rejecting this option.
On this background, external players interested in the restoration of the deal became more active. First of all, this concerns the monarchies of the Persian Gulf. So, on May 12, the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, arrived in Tehran. The Iranian authorities presented this visit as evidence of strengthening the country’s ties with its regional neighbors, but a Reuters source reports that the visit of the Qatari leader was aimed at bringing the parties to the JCPOA to a new middle ground.
The emir’s visit took place immediately after a similar trip made by the EU JCPOA coordinator Enrique Mora. On May 10, the European diplomat arrived in Tehran, where he met with Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Ali Bagheri Kani, who is the chief Iranian negotiator in Vienna. In addition, Mora said on his Twitter page that he would meet with “other officials”, but it is still unknown who else did he met.
It is also important to note the reaction of the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, to Mora’s visit. Before the trip, Borrell noted that she was the “last option” to break the impasse in which the negotiations had reached. At the same time, commenting on Mora’s return to Brussels, overshadowed by the detention of him and two other European diplomats at Frankfurt airport, Borrell called the result of Mora’s trip “exceeded expectations.”
Earlier it was also reported that the EU was going to offer Iran a “middle way”, according to which the status would be removed from the IRGC, but would remain on some of its parts. In addition, it is important to note the fact that on May 9-10, US Deputy Secretary of State Brian McKeon visited Doha, from where both Mora and the Emir of Qatar then went to Tehran.