Iran nuclear deal: As talks continue, so do obstacles

Iran nuclear deal: As talks continue, so do obstacles
As efforts to revive the Iran nuclear deal continue, mounting obstacles call into question how much the US-Iran indirect talks can withstand.
3 min read
30 April, 2021
Talks to return to the nuclear deal are underway [Getty]
Washington DC, The New Arab - As Iran and the US enter their fifth week of indirect negotiations, the two countries continue to face mounting obstacles, testing their resolve to stay the course.
Amid attacks on Iran’s infrastructure, a leaked candid recording of the country’s foreign affairs minister, and a series of US-Israeli meetings on the side, these obstacles are calling into question how much the US-Iran indirect talks can withstand.

“The most important obstacles are coming from those who don’t want the JCPOA — Iranian hardliners, Israel and US Congress,” Sina Toossi, a senior research analyst at the National Iranian American Council, told The New Arab.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal, has been one of US President Joe Biden’s top priorities since taking office.

But he, along with his Iranian counterparts face an uphill battle as they work to move forward in negotiating an agreement before Iran’s presidential election in June, in which a hardliner is expected to win.

One of the most vocal obstructionists is Israel, widely believed to be behind attacks onanistic Iranian oil tanker and a nuclear facility.

Having felt sidelined during the 2015 deal, Tel Aviv is making it clear that it won’t be ignored. As an Israel delegation gets ready to head to the US, it is unclear what either side stands to gain, given their divergent stances on the nuclear deal.

“It’s important for Netanyahu to show the Israeli public that America has its ear,” James Devine, associate professor of politics and international relations at Mount Allison University, told The New Arab.

For his part, “Biden shows he’s taking Israel’s concerns seriously.”
“Both sides are playing to their domestic audience,” he added.

As for the leaked recording of Mohammad Javad Zarif, in which he criticises the Revolutionary Guards, it doesn’t appear to have set back the negotiations, but it might have stopped short his potential presidential ambitions, said Toossi.

Meanwhile, as indirect US-Iran talks continue, reports say discussions between regional rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia are also being held. Likely focused on Yemen, these secret talks have the potential to help or hurt the JCPOA.

Adding to these multiple difficulties is the fact that at the end of May, Iran will reduce access to inspections to its nuclear sites.

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“At the end of May. Iran’s nuclear programme goes into the dark,” said Toossi. “Both sides have the incentive to prevent that from happening.”

Though it will likely continue to be difficult, he expects the talks will go through to the end.

“Despite all of these setbacks, talks are still ongoing,” said Toossi. “Both sides at the highest levels want this to happen.”

Brooke Anderson is The New Arab's correspondent in Washington D.C., covering US and international politics, business and culture.

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