U.S. hostile maneuvering impinges on Vienna talks

December 13, 2021 - 21:36

TEHRAN – The U.S. is not a party to the ongoing Vienna talks aimed at disposing of its sanctions on Iran but its absent presence continues to make things difficult in terms of making progress.

Ever since the resumption of the Vienna talks nearly two weeks ago, the U.S. has done everything in its power to blame Iran for the manufactured failure of the talks. Before the new round of talks, the Americans launched an early blame game which continues to this day. They accused Iran of not being serious and, and even worse, playing for time to build up its nuclear infrastructure.

When it came to light that Iran is dead serious about making a “good” and even “swift” agreement, the U.S. began stonewalling. In a bid to pave the way for result-oriented talks, Iran presented two draft proposals carefully crafted in strict conformity with the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). 

Instead of studying and building on the Iranian proposals, the U.S. joined forces with the Europeans to brush aside them and when failed to do so by dint of Iran’s insistence on the need to address the proposals, they doubled down on their stonewalling. 

During the short break that took place in the talks at the request of Western parties last week, Washington took a number of stances that cast a shadow of doubt on the Biden administration’s seriousness in pursuing result-oriented talks. 

Last week on Thursday, while negotiators from Iran and the P4+1 group of countries -France, Britain, China, Russia plus Germany- were descending on Vienna for a consequential round of talk, a White House spokesperson announced that President Joe Biden has asked his national security team to prepare other options in the event the Vienna talks failed to culminate in an agreement. 

“We believe a diplomatic resolution offers the best path to avoiding a nuclear crisis.  However, given the ongoing advances in Iran’s nuclear program, the President has asked his team to be prepared in the event that diplomacy fails and we must turn to other options, and that requires preparations,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a press briefing. 

In the meantime, the U.S. negotiating team led by Iran envoy Rob Malley refused to come to Vienna on time. Press reports suggested that Malley’s behavior was intended to amplify a privately conveyed American message to Iran that the U.S. will withdraw from the talks if Iran continued to insist on a new agenda for the talks.

To make things even worse, the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee passed a bipartisan bill targeting Iran’s domestic development of drones. The bill, officially known as Stop Iranian Drones Act (SIDA), bans the supply, sale or transfer to or from Iran of unmanned combat aerial vehicles.

The new U.S. measure came on the heels of U.S. sanctions on a number of Iranian individuals and institutions in connection with alleged “serious human rights abuse and repressive acts targeting innocent civilians, political opponents, and peaceful protestors.”

Also, the U.S. Department of Justice claimed that the U.S. seized approximately 1.1 million barrels of Iranian petroleum products as well as two large caches of Iranian arms allegedly bound for Yemen.

“These actions represent the government’s largest-ever forfeitures of fuel and weapons shipments from Iran,” the Justice Department said in a statement.

The U.S. moves raised alarm bells in Vienna as they came at a delicate moment for the Iran talks. The U.S. measures against Iran impinged on the talks in Vienna. The Iranian delegation and some other delegations protested the measures. Presenting a litany of U.S. hostile measures taken against Iran during various rounds talks, the Iranian side made it clear that Washington cannot claim it wants a return to the JCPOA while doubling down on sanctions and the so-called “maximum pressure” campaign initiated by former U.S. President Donald Trump, who first set off the current dispute by unilaterally withdrawing from the JCPOA in May 2018 and imposing blanket sanctions on Tehran. 

As things stand, the U.S. pressing ahead with its hostile measures will most likely affect the talks in a negative way. Many believe that the U.S. needs to meet diplomacy with diplomacy, not empty threats and hostile measures that have proven unconstructive in dealing with Iran.


 

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