On Friday, America and Iran will resume talks aimed at restoring trust and bridging what Washington calls tremendous and profound differences over how to salvage their failed nuclear accord.
According to a statement via his official website, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday to a cabinet meeting in Tehran that initial talks with America and powerful nations in Vienna to rescue an agreement were a SUCCESS that opened a NEW CHAPTER to save the deal.
On Tuesday, both nations described the indirect talks as a helpful step and constructive despite neither representative meeting face-to-face. Instead, authorities selected to use European signatories to the deal to act as intermediaries.
An Iranian administration spokesperson Ali Rabiei said they aren’t pessimistic or optimistic about this meeting’s outcome then, but they are confident that they are on the right track. He added; indeed, the full implementation of that deal will be decided within the upcoming weeks.
Tehran is taking an all-or-nothing approach to the talks. It wants Washington to guarantee the complete elimination of Trump-era sanctions to reduce its uranium enrichment activity. The Iranian side is also pressured by time, with Presidential elections set to fall in June 2021 that will remove President Hassan Rouhani and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif from office.
However, Washington D.C is seeking a ‘compliance for compliance’ approach, with US President ruling out any unilateral signals but still willing to exploring how America might also resume its compliance with the agreement.
An early economic olive branch appears to have already failed, with Iran unfolding a proposal from America to release one billion dollars of frozen oil money in exchange for Iran capping its uranium enrichment program as ridiculous.
Two Working Groups Established to Set the Stage for Negotiations
On Wednesday, Kirsten Fontenrose at the Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative said that the first issue that these talks will have to resolve is the elementary disconnect in approach. She said that until they square that circle, they cannot get anywhere.
A diplomat familiar with the matter said the talks in Vienna are to resume on Friday, two working groups were established to set the rules for discussions.
The first group focuses on U.S. sanctions, which the Donald Trump government levied after it left the original agreement in 2018.
The second group explores how to bring Tehran back into compliance with the restrictions set by the original the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on uranium enrichment and stockpiles of enriched uranium. Iran has frequently infringed the terms of the pact, causing concern among World and European signatories and stoking strains among its neighbors in the Middle East.
Friday’s talks could set the scene for more constructive negotiations or a full-blown showdown. Iran has used the first week of April to celebrate the Day of Nuclear Technology, which showcases its nuclear successes. Last Year, the event was delayed amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
President Rouhani said that day is an opportunity for people to see that in these years, despite the economic pressures, what outstanding achievements have been made in the field of the nation’s nuclear technologies.
Ned Price, State Department spokesman, said they see this as a constructive and indeed welcome step.
Analysts say that the oil prices improved slightly as initial talks concluded. A breakthrough could be bearish for crude oil if it increases the prospect of large quantities of Iran oil exports returning to the market.
Fontenrose said that if she were sitting at an oil trading desk, she would think she is in a pretty safe space because it looks like this will continue as it has.
She added that they would not have much disruption because they’re not coming close to getting Iranian oil back in the market. Moreover, they do not see any significant steps by the Gulf or Iran that would be destabilizing to the energy flow.