Three European powers, Germany, Britain, and France, along with Russia and China have been having an ongoing negotiation with Iran in Vienna. They all want Iran to remember its previous commitments regarding nuclear weapons and revive the deal made back in 2015.
After a 5 month hiatus, the officials from the countries finally sat together and discussed terms and conditions that would bring Iran to stop escalating its nuclear program.
Nicolas De Riviere, the ambassador of France for the United Nations, spoke at the world body from a joint statement by the three European powers that attended the talks with Iran. He said:
“Iran has walked back hard-fought compromises reached after many weeks of challenging negotiations, while at the same time presenting additional maximalist demands.”
He also spoke about Iran’s nuclear escalation reaching new heights which might end up making The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) hollow and useless.
Iran stopped working according to the JCPOA because the former US President, Donald Trump, pulled out of the deal in 2018.
According to the deal, Iran would curtail its nuclear activities if the global sanctions against it were lifted. However, in 2018, the US reimposed those sanctions forcing Iran to escalate its nuclear projects.
Tehran has since then continued working on its nuclear projects which have exceeded the limits of the pact. The current US President Joe Biden is ready to make changes to the Trump era and rejoin JCPOA.
But, this will only be done on the condition that Iran de-escalates its nuclear projects and continues to progress according to the pact.
Three European Powers Convince Iran
The journey to bring Iran and the US back into the JCPOA began back in April. Then it came to a pause for a few months from June onwards as Iran’s government changed.
This is the seventh round of talks that have happened. And according to the joint statement, some technical progress has finally been made. The French ambassador said:
“There has been some technical progress in the last 24 hours, but this only takes us back nearer to where the talks stood in June.”
However, Iran has come up with new demands in the latest meeting. This is because a new president, Ebrahim Raisi, has been elected since the last meeting.
Iran is now demanding that the US should lift all the sanctions it has against Iran and not just the ones it agreed to initially during the pact. But, the US has agreed to only remove the sanctions which were added in the Trump era.
They have implied since the beginning that sanctions based on terrorism as well as human rights abuses against Iran will not be removed.
Besides this, Iran also wants a commitment from the US that they will not back away from the pact in its future governments like it did when Trump was the President.
Unfortunately though, to agree to this term isn’t possible for Biden as JCPOA is not a legally binding treaty that has been passed by Congress. JCPOA is just a nonbinding political understanding between the countries.
Iran’s Nuclear Program Continues to Advance
Iran is continuously advancing its nuclear programs. It has now reached a point from which it can create fissile material for a nuclear bomb within a month.
Iran has also refused to give complete access to the UN nuclear watchdog ambassadors showing them only some areas where the nuclear project is ongoing. The country’s officials continue saying that they mean no harm through their nuclear projects.
But by looking at its levels of uranium enrichment it’s hard to believe, that the nuclear projects are only for civilian use.
The French ambassador said from the joint statement:
“Iran’s nuclear program has never been more advanced than it is today. This nuclear escalation is undermining international peace and security and the global nonproliferation system.”
He also added that they do not have much time left. He said:
“Iran’s continued nuclear escalation means that we are rapidly reaching the end of the road.”
European Powers and Iran’s Negotiations
Ali Bagheri who was the chief negotiator at the talks in Vienna said in a statement on Twitter that “diplomacy is a two-way street.” He also wrote that Iran has been proposing ideas and working constructively and flexibly.
On 14th December, Bagheri said:
“Some actors persist in their blame game habit, instead of real diplomacy.”
The US has responded to all of this saying that they will only think about negotiating once Iran has bought a halt to its nuclear programs. The country has even warned Iran that it will not shy away from using other methods if diplomacy fails.