Iran's delay in resuming talks not intended to reach nuclear breakout: expert

November 1, 2021 - 21:22

TEHRAN — An expert on international affairs says Iran's delay in resuming the Vienna talks is not to reach a “nuclear breakout” time, noting Iran is sending a clear signal that it is not seeking “negotiation for negotiation” and rather it is looking for tangible results.

The West is pressing Iran to immediately return to the stalled nuclear deal talks. The last round of talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal – JCPOA- was held on June 20. The talks were suspended as Iran held a presidential election on June 18 in which a new government came to power in Tehran. During the rule of the previous Iranian government, six rounds of talks were. 

"It was already clear that Iran is not looking to move towards a nuclear breakout,” Reza Zabihi said in an interview with ISNA published on Sunday.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Ali Bagheri and EU deputy foreign policy chief Enrique Mora met in Brussels on Wednesday. After the meeting, Bagheri tweeted that the Vienna talks will start before the end of the current month.

Mora is the coordinator of the nuclear talks. 

The expert said the Bagheri-Mora meeting in Brussels ended the speculation that Iran is not seeking negotiations. 

The U.S. was participating in the talks indirectly. Iran has said it will not directly talk to the U.S. unless the country rejoins the nuclear deal and lift the illegal sanctions.
 
Zabihi said Iran has two clear reasons for a delay in the talks.

“Iran's first reason is a thorough and detailed review of the previous six rounds of negotiations conducted by the previous administration, and for this purpose it was necessary for the new nuclear negotiating team to gain full knowledge and insight into the details of all aspects of it and then develop the basis for the continuation of diplomacy and inform the relevant authorities and gets their approval,” Zabihi explained.

The university professor went on to say that Iran's second and main reason for the delay was to convey the clear message that Tehran did not want negotiations for negotiations and was looking for tangible and definite results.

"In fact, Iran did not set a specific precondition for the start of negotiations, but by using the element of time it tried to remind the fact that it is only looking for fruitful negotiations," Zabihi added.

The international relations researcher also said Iran has suffered a lot of financial and economic damages since the U.S. quit the JCPOA illegally, and until this date Tehran has not even claimed compensation for the damages. Rather, he said, Iran is seeking to find a way back to the deal in a quite transparent way with tangible results.

Iran is also opposed to raising issues unrelated to the nuclear deal by the United States, he added.

"Therefore, a fair view respects the fact that Iran's demands are reasonable and principled. Of course, no further delay for the start of negotiations is necessary, because this misunderstanding may affect the negotiating parties that Iran seeks with this delay to move towards the nuclear breakout, which is not the case.”

The United States has been seeking to tie a revitalization of the deal to extension the sunset clauses in the JCPOA, Iran’s defensive missile program. 

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian has also said “Washington wants to continue a large part of the sanctions imposed by Trump on Iran. This is unacceptable for Iran.” 
 
Two senior political analysts have also called on the Joe Biden administration to separate talks on revival of the nuclear deal from security issues in West Asia.

U.S. allies in West Asia have already taken the initiative on regional issues, the two analysts wrote in an article in the Foreign Policy. 

Insisting on a package deal could permanently derail nuclear talks, warned professor Vali Nasr from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies and

Hossein Mousavian, a West Asia security and nuclear policy specialist at Princeton University.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told a press briefing on Monday that what has been done so far by the Joe Biden administration contravenes what has been declared by Jake Sullivan, the U.S. national security advisor.

“We have been hearing talks more than enough. We are waiting for practical actions which have been delayed for months,” Khatibzadeh said.

He also said the current situation surrounding the JCPOA is the result of behavior by the U.S. and the European trio (France, Germany and Britain) who did not honor their obligations under the JCPOA.

On October 29, Khatibzadeh also said new sanctions on Iran by the Biden administration shows that the White House has adopted a “quite conflicting behavior” toward Iran.  

Peter Jenkins, the former British ambassador to the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, told IRNA on Monday that the U.S. is responsible for such a situation and said if President Biden had returned to the JCPOA “today we were in a better condition.”   

“Nuclear breakout won’t benefit Iran” 

Zabihi went on to say that Iran has repeatedly stated it has never sought to build nuclear weapons, and even in terms of moving towards a nuclear breakout, the country's decision-makers are aware that such an action will not meet Tehran’s interests.

"Departing for the nuclear breakout may make sanctions against the country permanent and have other consequences, and the country's decision-makers are fully aware of this issue, and therefore, despite Trump's irresponsible and illegal departure and the great damage done, Iran is still ready to return to the nuclear deal if the JCPOA meets the interests of Iran,” the university professor remarked. 

Some of Iran's actions, such as enrichment at the level of 60%, were taken in response to Israel's sabotage acts against the country's nuclear facilities, the analyst stated, noting these measures should be interpreted in terms of “preventive measures”. 

“This means that any destructive action against nuclear facilities may have such consequences, and therefore the international community, and especially the member states of the JCPOA, should try to ensure the security of Iran's nuclear facilities and condemn any act of sabotage and take a clear step to revive the deal as soon as possible.”

The expert on international affairs highlighted that looking at Iran's set of actions and behaviors, including maintaining a continuous relationship with the International Atomic Energy Agency, which continued well in the new administration, indicates that Iran does not intend to move to toward the nuclear breakout.

Zabihi concluded: "New developments and meetings between senior officials of Iran and the European Union and the timing of the talks also indicate that the talks are moving in the right direction and the possibility of a successful outcome is still high."

The nuclear deal faced an ill-fated situation as former U.S. President Donald Trump unilaterally quit the agreement and slapped the harshest sanctions in history against Iran. Trump took such a reckless and misguided step in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2231 that confirmed the nuclear pact.

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