Despite repeated assurances that the third-party talks in Vienna intended to restart the Iran deal were making progress, it certainly sounds as if the Iranians believe that the process is mostly dead. The White House is finally admitting that the talks are “paused,” but the Iranians seem to be acting as if the show is over. And they’re blaming America for the failure to reach an agreement or make any substantial progress. A spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry came out today as part of a weekly news conference and said they hold Washington responsible while insisting that a deal is still “within reach.” But they’re obviously not going to agree to a deal unless it’s on their terms. And the deal would likely have to benefit Russia as well. (Reuters)
The United States is responsible for the pause in talks between Tehran and world powers in Vienna aimed at reviving their 2015 nuclear deal, an Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson said on Monday.
“America is responsible for the halt of these talks … a deal is very much within reach,” Saeed Khatibzadeh told a weekly news conference.
“Washington should make political decision for the deal’s revival,” he said, adding that Tehran would “not wait forever”.
It’s unfortunate that we have to rely on an Iranian mouthpiece to get any news about this situation because they are obviously putting a heavy amount of their own spin on these reports. But we don’t have much of a choice because the most transparent administration ever continues to refuse to hold any press conferences dealing with the talks. Also, the fact that the Russians still seem to be moderating the process doesn’t help.
Three of Iran’s demands were highlighted during the press conference and they should all be non-starters. One is that all of the sanctions on Iran should be lifted before they make a single move toward opening up their nuclear facilities for inspection or dismantling any equipment. Next, they want us to drop the foreign terrorist designation from the Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). And finally, they want written assurances that no future American president will be able to back out of the deal as Donald Trump did.
The third one isn’t even possible without significant congressional involvement in the process. In order to make anything that permanent, it would have to be in the form of an official treaty, and as much as he doesn’t seem to understand this, Biden can’t singlehandedly commit the United States to a treaty any more than Barack Obama could. It’s written right in the Constitution in case anyone in the White House needs a reminder.
Amazingly, Biden has suggested that he was considering dropping the FTO designation for the IRGC. And he did so right after they shelled one of our consulates in Iraq. We might as well not bother maintaining a terrorist watchlist if you’re not going to include the Revolutionary Guard.
As far as the sanctions go, this is no different than the years-long standoff we’ve had with North Korea. When a country repeatedly goes back on their promises after getting all they can out of us, you don’t simply take them at their word. A deal could actually be reached with either of those countries, but they need to show some good faith and take some substantial, cooperative action first. This really shouldn’t be all that complicated.
The sanctions against Iran aren’t working well enough to produce any concrete results. And it’s long been known that the reason for this is that Russia and China have been quietly undermining those sanctions to Iran’s benefit. But that doesn’t mean they should be removed, along with giving the Iranians the moon on a silver platter, just in the hopes that this time they might actually make good on the agreement. Doing that will just make us look like chumps. Again.