“This is really the last chance for Iran to sign up, and I strongly urge them to do that because we are determined to work with our allies to prevent Iran securing nuclear weapons,” British Foreign Minister Liz Truss told the Chatham House on December 8, on the eve of the renewal of the seventh round of negotiations on the JCPOA. On December 9, after a short technical pause, the parties reconvened in Vienna to get closer to restoring the Iran Nuclear deal.
The chief negotiator for the JCPOA, Ali Bagheri Kani, noted: “The fact that the parties have a serious will to continue the talks shows that the two sides want to narrow the gaps… Iran sees no obstacles in reaching an agreement if necessary grounds are provided”. Undoubtedly, the necessary conditions imply the lifting of sanctions by the United States.
In this regard, the fact that the US Treasury Department imposed new sanctions on seven Iranian individuals and two Iranian law enforcement agencies on Tuesday for the already traditional reason – violation of human rights – looks regressive. The US State Department also said on Thursday that the Biden administration is taking steps to tighten sanctions against Iran with the dispatch of a senior delegation to the United Arab Emirates next week. The delegation, which will include the head of the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, Andrea Gacki, will issue a warning to companies in the UAE that do not comply with sanctions.
In response, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Said Khatibzadeh said that “Even amid the Vienna talks, US cannot stop imposing sanctions against Iran. Washington fails to understand that ‘maximum failure’ and a diplomatic breakthrough are mutually exclusive. Doubling down on sanctions won’t create leverage — and is anything but seriousness and goodwill”.
In parallel, the ground is being prepared for possible military exercises to work out the destruction of Iranian nuclear facilities in the worst-case scenario. “Possible military exercises will prepare for a scenario with Iran in which negotiations will fail, and the leaders of the United States and Israel will demand a military strike,” the U.S. official said. The planned U.S. talks with visiting Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz followed an October 25 briefing by Pentagon leaders to White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on the full range of military options available to ensure that Iran cannot produce nuclear weapons.
And although the negotiations started with a busy week, European Union diplomat Enrique Mora, who chaired Thursday’s meeting of all the deal’s remaining signatories – Iran, the UK, France, Germany, Russia and China – said afterward that he felt “a renewed sense of purpose on the need to work and to reach an agreement on bringing the (agreement) back to life”. “Whether that will be confirmed and endorsed by negotiations on the details, we will see in the coming days,” Mora added.
A senior EU official said that “My impression is that we are simply advancing in the quite logical way of the negotiations”. A new government and delegation were formed. At the beginning of this new seventh round of negotiations, it took several days for the parties to express their political considerations. “They did. Then we delved into more detailed details of the negotiations. The text of June 20 is obviously the general basis for the work. This does not prevent any delegation from “submitting proposals for changes”. Recall that 7-8 points are still open in the June text, but this text “is the future of any agreement here in Vienna”.