Vienna talks failure will mark decline of U.S., E3

June 18, 2022 - 21:15

TEHRAN — As diplomatic efforts to remove the unilateral sanctions on Iran is continuing, the attitude of the United States and E3 (France, UK, and Germany) seems to be more focused on bringing the Vienna talks to a failure.

What the U.S. and E3 fail to understand is that a failure of the Vienna talks will mark their decline, as they need a swift revival of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) more than ever. 

With the lowest approval rating of all time, and considering the prospect of the wounded snake (Donald Trump) regaining power in 2024, the 79-year-old Joe Biden needs to be more agile in making decisions.

Considering the number of foreign policy failures that the Democratic Party has endured, to avoid another major crisis Democrats must show more flexibility than before.

The shameful withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021, and the bad management of the Ukraine war have drawn a lot of criticism from both Democrats and Republicans, which have so far led to baffling the already disorganized Biden administration. 

Meanwhile, Western analysts are trying to reverse the reality by portraying Iran’s situation as devastating.

In a tweet posted on Saturday, Barbara Slavin, Director of the Future of Iran Initiative at the Atlantic Council, came up with a suggestion that Iran must swiftly sign a 27-page draft which is on the Vienna negotiation table, all ready to be signed.

“#Iran should immediately accept the 27-page draft for reviving the JCPOA to get its economy growing again. As the letter (by some economists to President Ebrahim Raisi) says, Iran needs balanced and active interaction with major economic powers ‘including restoring the JCPOA and removing FATF-imposed restrictions’ on banks,” Slavin wrote. 

Well, there are many factual errors in this single tweet. For one, there is no draft ready on the table in Vienna, as there are major differences between Iran and the U.S, hence they are exchanging messages on a daily basis. If there is a draft, why messages are constantly being exchanged? 

An American journalist told the Tehran Times correspondent on the condition of anonymity that the United States has offered an initiative last week, and is awaiting Iran’s response, a matter which was also confirmed by Iran’s top negotiator’s media advisor on Twitter last night. If there is a draft in Vienna, there was no need for the United States to offer new proposals. 

In response to another tweet by Slavin on Friday which claimed that “there is an excellent 27 page draft that is only awaiting Iran's signature,” Mohammad Marandi, media advisor to Ali Bagheri Kani, Iran’s top negotiator, wrote, “They aren't telling you the truth. If there's a final text, why is the U.S. STILL giving new proposals? Differences remain & the U.S. can resolve them easily. They violated & tore up the deal, not Iran. They know they can no longer slow Iranian oil related exports. Iran is waiting.”

It seems the Western side has launched a disinformation media campaign with the aim of gaining more concessions inside the negotiation room. However, they must realize that this is a fruitless path and a grave mistake. The Westerners must allow the negotiations to be held between “diplomats”, not “journalists.” 

If the United States and E3 are interested in a quick and desired conclusion of the Vienna talks, they must adjust a thing or two in order to lead the talks to a prosperous atmosphere. 

For starters, their heavily unconstructive behavior in pushing for an anti-Iran resolution at the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors was a critical mistake, which should not be repeated again. The resolution, although did not enforce anything on Iran, hampered all the hymns sung by Biden and his staff about their goodwill. 

In his joint presser in Tehran with his Pakistani counterpart Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Tuesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian highlighted that Tehran strongly believes in diplomacy is the best way to conclude the Vienna talks. 

“We believe that negotiation and diplomacy are the best way to reach the end point of the agreement. We have taken important steps in recent months in the negotiations that my colleague Mr. Bagheri (Kani) had with Mr. Enrique Mora and the 4+1 countries in Vienna, as well as in the exchange of messages that took place between Iran and the United States during this period,” Iran’s top diplomat noted. 

Amir Abdollahian went on to say that in recent days, particularly last week, despite the continued exchange of indirect messages between Tehran and Washington and despite the progress that was made in the course of talks, all of a sudden, the American side submitted a resolution to the IAEA Board of Governors to put political pressure on Iran and to gain more concessions. 

“Despite the fact that the American side informed us that this resolution was hollow, the very spirit of (issuing) the resolution made us warn the American side in doing so,” Amir Abdollahian noted.

“We put a new political package and a new initiative on the table, the American side accepted the initiative, but insisted on passing the resolution. As a result, we carried out these (reciprocal nuclear) measures by increasing our nuclear activities in areas that were announced, and implemented them through the Atomic Energy Organization (of Iran).

These measures were officially noted to the Secretariat of the International Atomic Energy Agency before the resolution was issued,” he elaborated.

However, it is important to note that Iran has not, and will not escape from the dialogue.

The second thing that the Americans and the Europeans need to adjust is their media wars. Spreading false data and launching a disinformation campaign will only make the talks more complicated. The Vienna talks, which have now taken second place for the Americans and the Europeans due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, are highly important for the West. A quick return to the deal will reconstruct the public opinion’s image of Biden. However, it seems that he doesn’t have any plans in the Vienna talks. 

After a closed-door briefing on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, the U.S. senators gave mixed signals. While some spoke of an American plan A and B, others said that Biden doesn’t even have a plan A.  

Senator Marco Rubio said after the briefing, “I don’t think they have a plan B, certainly not one they’ve shown to us,” while Chris Van Hollen noted that the White House’s plan B includes “lots of different elements” including a military option but “would likely result in a lot of Americans getting killed.”

Senator Ted Cruz, however, was the most pessimist of the bunch, describing the briefing as “quite concerning” and the Biden administration’s policy an “absolute dumpster fire… they don’t have a plan B, they don’t have a plan A, they don’t have any plan.”

Even Chris Murphy, a senator who has always encouraged the Biden administration to quickly conclude a deal in Vienna seemed disappointed, saying, “The chances of a breakthrough are much smaller today than they we’re six months ago.”

Indecision and lack of managerial and negotiations skill on the American side will have calamitous results for them. They just don’t know, or don’t want to know.

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