Gradual return to JCPOA hit dead end as U.S. refuses to lift sanctions 

March 14, 2021 - 18:28

TEHRAN – Iran and the West have been engaged in intense talks on how to revive a 2015 nuclear deal but the U.S. insistence on maintaining sanctions has stymied the talks, Press TV reported. 

“Over the past days and weeks, some instances of multilateral diplomatic activism have been witnessed towards eliminating the deadlock that has been formed around the issue of the United States’ potential return to the JCPOA. Vienna, Geneva, Brussels, Paris, Berlin, Washington, New York, and Tehran have been playing host to this activism,” Press TV said, adding, “Over the past week, the International Atomic Energy Agency hosted a battle of brawn that had Iran on one side and the United States together with its trio of European allies in the JCPOA on the other.”

Referring to the recent deal between Iran and the IAEA, the Iranian news network said the Europeans’ move to put forth an anti-Iran resolution at the UN nuclear watchdog’s Board of Governors following the deal increased Iran’s suspicions about the Europeans’ goodwill and “fitness” to mediate between Tehran and Washington.

Iran and the IAEA have recently reached an understanding on how to continue cooperation in light of the implementation of a nuclear law obligating the Iranian government to stop the implementation of the Additional Protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) if the West failed to lift sanctions. The agreement allowed the IAEA to continue inspection and verification activities in Iran for a period of three months. After that period, the continuation of IAEA activities in Iran would be contingent on the U.S. lifting the sanctions.

“Iran’s concern about the role played by the European sides was so serious that prompted Tehran to relay indirect messages to them indicating that if Iran and the U.S. were supposed to exchange any messages at all, the official channel through the Swiss Embassy that represents the U.S. interests in the Islamic Republic would serve as a better conduit than the European vehicles. This means that not only does not Tehran consider the Europeans to be any better than U.S. President Joe Biden himself, but also it suspects that they could be providing wrongful and misleading consultation and assessments to the new American administration. Therefore, it would be better for any potential messages to be relayed through Switzerland,” Press TV said. 

According to Press TV, the Europeans saw no choice before themselves other than to take back their resolution thanks to Iran’s insistence on its position that potential adoption of the resolution would prompt Tehran to end its agreement with the IAEA. They had received messages from the Iranian side earlier showing that the “a-step-for-a-step” proposal could warrant examination. Based on the proposal, some steps on the part of the U.S. could be followed by some steps on the part of Iran, the American steps featuring unfreezing of part of Iran’s overseas assets.

The U.S. expressed no objection to this proposal but at the same time, it did not want the unfreezing process to take place before any unofficial or even closed-door meeting with Iran, instead preferring the unblocking process to be announced as the outcome of one such meeting.

Another sticking point has revolved around the amount of the frozen assets that have to be released. This volume has oscillated between $1 and $15 billion. Press TV’s information indicates, though, that those who have been proposing the idea on the part of Tehran have not been certain whether the proposal was in accordance with the policies of the country’s establishment.

Nevertheless, presentation of the issue on the part of some people in Iran and appearance of some relevant hazy remarks in the media heartened the Europeans to play a role in the area. It was then that they tried to portray their withdrawal of the anti-Iran resolution, which had actually resulted after Tehran’s official threat, as an instance of their goodwill towards promotion of the “a-step-for-a-step” proposal.

This is while, the Europeans, who still confidently consider themselves to be the JCPOA’s defenders, even construe potential removal of Iran’s oil sanctions that former U.S. President Donald Trump issued after leaving the JCPOA as a “difficult measure” the resolution of which definitely requires Iran and the U.S. to hold a meeting. On the other hand, they regard Iran’s potential cessation of 20-percent enrichment as only a small step.

As regards the informal meeting that the European Union sought to hold between Iran and the U.S., Press TV said that France and Germany sent direct and indirect messages to Iran in an effort to persuade it to attend the meeting. 

Paris and Berlin resorted to some intense efforts by funneling some direct and indirect messages to persuade Iran to attend an unofficial meeting with the U.S.

As a result of these contacts and relaying of these messages, in which Brussels would sometimes intervene as Europe’s foreign policy headquarters, a proposal emerged in Iran, which advised implementation of a phased-out and months-long procedure involving reciprocal measures by Iran and the U.S.

According to Press TV, some lobbying efforts inside the new U.S. administration were also effective in the formation of the proposal. These lobbying efforts came on the part of people of Iranian origin, who tried to establish some contact between Iran’s representative mission to the United Nations and the person in charge of Iran’s dossier in Biden’s administration. These people eventually realized, however, that the main proposal was in the making in Tehran amid contact with Europeans.

As part of the proposal that bore some defects completely similar to those of the JCPOA’s, the U.S. was supposed to make some unverified commitments in exchange for completely verifiable and palpable commitments on the part of Iran. Nor did the volume of the Iranian assets that were supposed to be unfrozen as part of the proposal bore the smallest resemblance to the $1,000-billion that Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif recently specified in an interview with Press TV as the damages that the Islamic Republic has incurred due to the U.S. departure from the JCPOA. The proposal, however, came to use for deployment on such symbolic junctures as the final days of the solar calendar year and the National Nuclear Technology Day. Its emergence also well suited the nearing period of campaigning for Iranian presidential elections.

But the proposal did not offer a verifiable sanctions relief, Press TV said, noting that the proposal not only did not enable verifiable sanction relief, but also it would lead to subsequent negotiations that would, in turn, impose harsher, lengthier, and more dangerous commitments on Iran.

The proposal went down the official path of assessment of its commensurability with the establishment’s policies, but was deemed irreconcilable with the policies and the establishment’s strategies. Accordingly, Press TV aired an exclusive report, announcing that the “a-step-for-a-step” proposal had been ruled out as it did not suit the establishment’s policies on the issue of the JCPOA.

Press TV’s information indicates that the U.S. has even changed its mind regarding potential unfreezing of $1 billion in Iranian assets that have been blocked in South Korea. Washington had sought to announce the prospect of unfreezing the money as a result of a potential meeting with Tehran, but began frowning on even such a limited unblocking process after realizing that the Islamic Republic insisted on complete sanction relief.

Based on verified information, Press TV has made certain that no proposal that does not match the Iranian Islamic establishment’s declared policy would be used as the basis of the country’s interaction in the area. The United States can, therefore, only rely on a proposal that is in accord with the conditions announced by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, especially the ones that the Leader laid emphasis upon through the speech dated January 8, 2021.

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