Troika gears up for its best known blame game as talks go on

TEHRAN, Dec. 18 (MNA) – With the parties to the Vienna talks holding a plenary session on Friday, a period of nearly a two-week break has started, with the talks scheduled to resume in late December.

The European Union’s External Action Service announced Friday that the Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) will convene again in a physical format in Vienna. The meeting was held on Friday evening. 

JCPOA Joint Commissions are usually held at the start and end of negotiation rounds. 

The Vienna talks resumed in late November after a more than five-month hiatus. Since then, two rounds have been held with the second one being wrapped up on Friday. The resumption of the talks has been accompanied by a Western media blitz against Iran accusing it of not being serious. 

First, the Europeans claimed that Iran was not interested in real talks and that it’s no use talking with them. But they were taken aback by Iran’s seriousness when it presented two carefully crafted proposals on measures pertaining to lifting sanctions and the nuclear sphere.

The E3 - France, Germany and Britain – then accused Iran of pursuing unrealistic and maximalist demands when it came to light that Iran was dead serious about the talks.

But after two rounds of talks since late November it became ever clearer that which side is presenting maximalist demands. 

Iran’s proposals were drafted in strict conformity with the terms of the JCPOA and nothing beyond this agreement was ever included in them. In addition, despite European grumbling about Iran’s alleged intransigence, Tehran showed its goodwill in the talks by announcing a voluntary deal with the International Atomic Energy Agency and showing flexibility at the Vienna talks. 

As regards the deal with the IAEA, Iran put an end to a months-long dispute over the cameras that the UN nuclear watchdog wants to place at a centrifuge-manufacturing facility in Karaj.

And in Vienna Iran constructively engaged on nuclear issues despite putting the issue of sanctions lifting high on its agenda.  

Notwithstanding Iran’s constructive approach to the Vienna talks, the E3 and Washington doubled down on a policy of blame game all while pursuing maximalist demands that fall beyond the scope of the 2015 nuclear deal.

After the first week of negotiations starting after the resumption of the talks in late November, the Europeans fostered a pessimistic atmosphere, portraying the talks as being on the brink of collapse. And, as was their wont, they demanded Iran pull back the talks from the brink by making more concessions.

With the resumption of the current round last week, they reiterated the need for Iran to come to Vienna with the view to make concessions, something that Iran strongly rejected and underlined the need for fair negotiations based on equal footing.

With the seventh round of talks coming to an end on Friday and the talks being postponed for about 10 days, the Western partners to the talks seem to be willing to rehash their previous positions. The first indication in this regard came from Israel which is playing a destructive role to derail the talks.

“BREAKING: E3 diplomat tells me: No real progress this week in the nuclear talks with Iran. At the current pace, it could take 6 months to get a deal. Another meeting could take place next on December 27th,” Barak Ravid, an Israeli journalist who first propagated the 90-percent uranium enrichment subterfuge on Axios, tweeted on Friday moments before the JCPOA Joint Commission.

The E3, Israel and the US all did everything in their power to turn the heat up on Iran during the seventh round. The Europeans met with Israeli officials in Vienna, the British said they no longer want the JCPOA of 2015, the French fed Western media outlets with leaks about the talks, and the Americans refused to change their position on the sanctions that should be lifted. 

With the current round of talks coming to an end, the West will likely continue to blame Iran for the alleged lack of progress in the talks. This is while Iranian media has reported that major progress was made during the talks. 

Negotiators from Iran and the P4+1 (Russia, China, the UK, France and Germany) have reached a new draft document in the course of talks in Vienna, Tasnim reported on Friday, adding that it appears that Iran’s views have been featured in the draft document, which, once finalized, will be the basis for the future negotiations.

The delegations representing the European troika are going to leave Vienna for London, Paris and Berlin for consultations, while the “major progress” that has been made with regard to the texts would prevent the EU3 from accusing Iran of lack of seriousness or killing time, Tasnim said.

First published in Tehran Times

News Code 181895

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