Dec 22, 2022, 11:00 AM
Why US shrugs off JCPOA talks?

TEHRAN, Dec. 22 (MNA) – While Iran continues to express its readiness for resuming Vienna talks to revive the JCPOA, the US has practically put the talks on hold in what appears to be a negotiating tactic aimed at extracting more concessions.

After months of being on the margins of news, the Iran nuclear deal officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), once again came to the fore but just not in the way many observers expected, i.e. getting revived. Rather, the tattered deal inadvertently got its death certificate from US President Joe Biden. 

A Twitter video that went viral featured President Biden explaining why he was not ready to announce the death of the JCPOA although he believed it is dead. The video, which was recorded last month at a campaign rally in California, showed a woman asking Biden to announce the death of the deal. 

While saying the deal is dead Biden pointed out that he was unable to announce that. “No,” Biden told the woman. “It is dead, but we are not gonna announce it.”

When asked why, the US president replied, “For a lot of reasons. Long story.”

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby commented on Biden’s JCPOA remarks on Tuesday. While he refrained from corroborating Biden, he said that the JCPOA is not their “focus right now.”

“There is no progress happening with respect to the Iran deal now. We don't anticipate any progress anytime in the near future. That's just not our focus,” Kirby said. 

The US communicating its unwillingness in relation to the JCPOA come at a time when Iran was doing exactly the opposite. Over the last few days, Iran has said it was ready to resume the stalled talks over reviving the JCPOA.

On Monday, Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations Amir Saeed Iravani reiterated Iran’s readiness to resume the stalled talks in Vienna in a statement to the United Nations Security Council. “Iran reiterates its commitment to dialogue and diplomacy. We are ready to resume the Vienna talks, to work cooperatively to reach an agreeable solution and even to arrange the ministerial meeting as soon as possible to declare the JCPOA’s restoration. This is achievable if the US demonstrates genuine political will and stands ready to work towards a satisfying solution and agrees to fully comply with its obligations. The US now has the ball in its court,” Iravani said. 

Also, Mohammad Marandi, an advisor to the Iranian negotiating team, said Iran was waiting for the US to return to the JCPOA. 

Simultaneously, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian held an extensive meeting with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell in the Jordanian capital Amman on the sideline of a regional summit on Iraq. The JCPOA was the main issue in the 2-hour meeting, which was also attended by Iran’s chief negotiator Ali Bagher Kani and the EU coordinator for the Vienna talks, Enrique Mora. 

In the meeting, Amir-Abdollahian declared Iran’s readiness, to sum up the Vienna talks based on the draft of the negotiation package that was the result of months of intensive and difficult talks. The Iranian foreign minister also advised the other sides to avoid politicizing the issue, adopt a realistic and constrictive approach and make the necessary decisions to announce a deal, according to the Iranian foreign ministry. 

Borrell, for his part, reaffirmed the EU’s resolve to continue the Vienna negotiations until they produce results.

Despite Iran’s constructive approach, the US conspicuously shrugged off the talks, reiterating that they were no longer on the agenda of the US. And US envoy for Iran Rob Malley further dampened the prospect of a return to the JCPOA. 

“As Amb. Robert Wood said yesterday at the UN, Sept. ‘was not the first time Iran’s leaders had turned their backs on a deal that was on the table, approved by all.  But this last instance dashed our collective hope for a swift, mutual return to full implementation of the JCPOA’,” Malley said on Twitter. 

Malley quoting Wood was another indication that the US is not interested in diplomacy with Iran at least for the time being. 

This has stunned observers as Biden officials have long been saying that they will keep the door of diplomacy open on Iran. But the recent developments bear witness to the contrary. 
Of course, the Biden administration is justifying their disinterest in diplomacy with unrest in Iran. But some pundits believe that the Biden administration thinks that Iran is now in a position of weakness and that they can extract more concessions by kicking the can down the road. 
But if history is any guide, this miscalculated approach will not yield the desired results for the White House because Iran has long said that it will not negotiate under pressure. Therefore, the pressure simply does not work with Iran. 

By Mehran Shamsuddin

First published in Tehran Times

News Code 195242


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