Four things to watch as Biden administration returns to Iran nuclear talks table

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Iran nuclear deal negotiations resume Monday after five months, but experts warn US is even weaker than before after deadly troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and unanswered proxy attacks on military resources .

Here are four developments to consider as officials gather in Austria for the seventh round of negotiations since President Joe Biden’s inauguration.

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Less favorable conditions for a new Iran nuclear deal

Biden and his associates speculated that reintegration into the Iran nuclear deal would be a “slam dunk,” according to Blaise Misztal, political vice president of the Jewish Institute for National Security in America. But since the first six rounds of negotiations between April and June, conditions have changed, which could lead to a less favorable deal for the United States, including the election of President Ebrahim Raisi in Iran.

“The negotiating team that Raisi is sending to Vienna is made up of people who criticized the JCPOA from the start in 2015,” Misztal told the Washington Examiner, using the official name of the Iran nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. “And they started making all kinds of other demands, including that the United States pay Iran $ 10 billion just to resume negotiations,” he said.

Iran also took “very strong views” of the withdrawal from Afghanistan as “a sign that the United States is weak,” according to Misztal. “Just a month ago, Iranian proxies attacked a US base in Syria, and the US did nothing in response,” he added.

This is in addition to the United States “removing any pressure that could be interpreted by the [Iranian] regime as provocateur ”, according to Richard Goldberg, senior advisor to the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. This eased the economic burden on Iran as it only had $ 4 billion in foreign exchange reserves available at the end of former President Donald Trump’s administration.

“The campaign of maximum deference that President Biden has waged has been returned with a campaign of maximum expansion by the Iranians on their nuclear program in their terrorist domain across the Middle East,” Goldberg said.

Delicate dynamics between China, Russia and other signatories to the Iran nuclear deal

Iran has refused to negotiate directly with the Biden administration over the nuclear deal. It is “rather embarrassing from a diplomatic point of view,” according to Goldberg. Instead, the negotiations were facilitated by representatives from the UK, France and Germany, as well as their Chinese and Russian counterparts.

“China and Russia have a strong incentive to maintain the status quo,” Goldberg said, referring to sales of conventional and nuclear weapons or infrastructure projects for natural resources. “They also like the fact that Iran is a provocateur of the United States,” he added.

The European partners have generally adopted “a policy of appeasement” towards Iran, Goldberg said. Misztal partially agreed. It will be interesting to see whether Europeans “display greater impatience” with the United States or Iran over who they see as “the biggest obstacle to returning to the deal,” according to Misztal.

“[Iran comes] in these talks with a new objective, namely to maintain all these nuclear gains that they have obtained throughout the year, to keep them as a new baseline for future negotiations, and still manage to obtain additional lightening of the nuclear costs. sanctions from the Biden administration, “he said.

Iran gives itself more time for its nuclear program

As negotiations resume, Iran has stepped up its nuclear program in terms of the amount of enriched uranium in its stockpile and the number of operational centrifuges at its disposal, according to Misztal. This gave Iran negotiating power over the Biden administration, he said.

Biden and his team hardened their own message, reiterating that “time is running out” and launching the idea of ​​a Plan B with Israel, according to Misztal. But the problem is that the administration has not imposed a negotiation deadline or detailed its contingency plan, he explained.

“Even if [Iran] doesn’t believe the United States could attack him, he thinks diplomacy saves him time and makes it harder, for example, for Israel to attack Iran, “Misztal said.” It also buys peace. good will.”

“One of Iran’s comprehensive strategies is still to divide the Western powers by creating uncertainty and doubts about Iran’s true intentions,” he added. “What he doesn’t want is that the United States and European countries, as well as Russia and China, agree that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon, or that Iran does not want to compromise, gang up against him and adopt more sanctions at the UN “

An Iranian nuclear deal “less for more”?

There are two potential outcomes for this week’s Iran nuclear deal negotiations, according to Misztal. They include a pact to “keep talking” or the Biden administration giving in and organizing fewer nuclear and economic restrictions “out of desperation to get some deal,” he predicted.

“Plan B must not be just more US sanctions. There must be multilateral sanctions at the UN as there were under the Bush and Obama administrations,” Misztal said of former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. “It must also be military pressure. Iran must really believe that we are going to prevent them from getting a nuclear capability, one way or another.”

Negotiators are expected to reverse the additional UN Security Council resolution on the Iran nuclear deal, removing its sunset provisions, according to Goldberg.

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“They should work with our European allies to reverse the Security Council resolution. Take the sunsets away from Iran,” Goldberg said of Biden and his team. “Do not lift the sanctions. Really apply all our sanctions. Encourage the Europeans to add their own sanctions,” he added. “Do not take the pressure off [International Atomic Energy Agency]. Increase pressure on the IAEA through resolutions, censorship and referrals to the Security Council. “


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