US dithering over Vienna talks increase uncertainty

TEHRAN, Mar. 08 (MNA) – Talks in Vienna are entering a new phase of uncertainty due to the lack of political decisions on the part of the United States, which now needs a deal with Iran more than ever for a number of reasons.

A few days ago, the Vienna talks were widely expected to culminate in a deal by Monday or Tuesday this week. Rumors had it that the foreign ministers of Iran and the P4+1 group of countries (China, Russia, France, and Britain plus Germany) were planning for an in-person signing ceremony in Vienna. Some reporters even claimed that the foreign minister have received invites in this regard. 

But the optimistic outlook for the deal changed out of the blue, with the US and Iran both underlining that a deal is not in the air at least for now. 

Iranian officials said the reason for this is that the US continues to hesitate to make political decisions needed to push the talks another step toward the finishing line.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in his weekly press briefing on Monday that the remaining issues in Vienna are very few and all awaiting a US decision. 

“The remaining differences are less than the number of fingers of one hand if no one adds a new topic. They are all waiting for the US response. If it has a rational approach and considers the concerns of the P4 + 1 and Iran, and an appropriate response is given by Washington, an agreement is available in the shortest possible time,” Khatibzadeh said. 

He added, “The criterion for us is a good agreement, an agreement that takes into account the interests of the nation. And if it is done today, we are ready to do it today in Vienna.”

The secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, reiterated the need for the US to make political decisions. 
“Prospect of a deal in Vienna Talks remains unclear due to Washington's delay in making a political decision,” Shamkhani said on Twitter. 

He added, “Priority of Iranian negotiators is to resolve remaining issues that are considered in the red line. Rapid access to a strong deal requires new initiatives from all parties.”

Some believe that the US needs to make political decisions as soon as possible given the dramatic developments currently taking place in the world. Most issues in the talks have been resolved and the remaining issues can be settled quickly if the US shows seriousness. 

According to experts, the US is in dire need to help quickly conclude the Vienna talks for a number of reasons. First, if the US makes political decisions on Vienna talks, the return of Iran’s oil exports will help bring down the surging oil prices in the world. The US is now desperately looking for an increase in oil output in order to stabilize the global oil markets. And Iran’s oil is a silver bullet. 

Second, any further delay in concluding the talks could prompt some parties to present new demands.

Of course, presenting new demands does not mean that the talks would fail. But addressing the demands would require more time and energy. 

Over the last few days, at least one such demand was presented by Russia, which called for guarantees from the US.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the sanctions the West imposed on Russia over Ukraine will create a problem for the Iran nuclear deal and demanded written guarantees from the US that these sanctions won’t impede Russia-Iran cooperation in case the JCPOA is revived. 

“We want an answer - a very clear answer - we need a guarantee that these sanctions will not in any way touch the regime of trade-economic and investment relations which is laid down in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” the Russian foreign minister said.

He added, “We have asked for a written guarantee ... that the current process triggered by the United States does not in any way damage our right to free and full trade, economic and investment cooperation and military-technical cooperation with the Islamic Republic.”

First published in Tehran Times

News Code 184639

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