E3 throws a wrench into Vienna talks

December 11, 2021 - 21:37

TEHRAN – With the Vienna talks running up against technical roadblocks, the three European parties to the negotiations -France, Germany and Britain (E3)- have resorted to a series of bullying measures ranging from pressuring other parties to brandishing a referral of Iran’s nuclear binder to international institutions.

Ever since the resumption of the Vienna talks about two weeks ago, the E3 has been busy trying to blame Iran for the failure of talks instead of preparing the ground for progress in the talks. First, they cast doubt on Iran’s intention, accusing it of playing for time. And when Iran showed its seriousness by presenting two carefully drafted proposals in strict accordance with the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), they sought to portray the Iranian proposals as unrealistic and maximalist. 

At some point, they, in tandem with the U.S., announced with one voice that Iran backtracked on all the difficult compromises achieved during the past six rounds, which ended on June 20 amid the presidential transition period in Iran.

On the other hand, Iran has said time and again it did not totally reject past achievements. Rather, it only built on them to bring a new negotiating spirit to the talks. Iran’s proposals were drafted in strict conformity with the terms of the JCPOA so as to prevent the Europeans from using whatever excuse to reject them.

But Iranian accuracy and seriousness seem to have failed to put the E3 on the right negotiating track as they joined forces with their American ally to blackmail Iran and other partners in Vienna, including the European Union.

Shortly after the dissemination of positive news on Friday about progress in the talks, it came to light that the E3 suave diplomats have ramped up pressures to get in talks what the Americans failed to get through bullying. Nour News, a website close to Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, reported that the E3 made ample efforts to change the track of negotiations in a bid to pocket concessions not only from Iran but also Russia, China and, ironically the EU. 

According to the news website, the EU, following in the footsteps of Washington, tries to create an atmosphere of pressure against Iran using various tactics.

“This behavior of the European troika has in particular disrupted the mission of EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and his deputy and envoy to the JCPOA Joint Commission, Enrique Mora,” Nour News added. 

The E3 has made it clear that it was unhappy with the way negotiations are proceeding. European diplomats gave pessimistic remarks to world media about the trajectory of talks. 

The E3, together with the U.S., seeks to ramp up pressures and threats against Iran concurrently with the negotiations, according to Al-Akhbar, a Beirut-based newspaper close to Hezbollah. The newspaper said on Saturday that the Europeans warned of censure against Iran in the next meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s board of governors, which is set to take place soon. 

During the talks, Al-Akhbar said, the Europeans informed Iran that they, in tandem with Washington, would push for censure at the board of governors if Iran failed to put an end to its reduction of nuclear commitments and restriction of IAEA inspections. They also warned that they will make preparations for referring the Iranian nuclear file to the UN Security Council, according to Al-Akhbar.

If true, the Al-Akhbar report indicates a European rehash of worn-out threats. And the European use of the language of unvarnished threat will most likely further complicate the situation in Vienna as Iran has long said that it will by no means negotiate under threat.