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December 20, 2021 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1614

Round Seven In Vienna Nuclear Talks: Iran 1, U.S. 0

December 20, 2021 | By A. Savyon and Y. Carmon*
Iran | Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1614

Introduction

The seventh round of the nuclear negotiations in Vienna between Iran and the international community on a return to the 2015 JCPOA agreement have concluded with an Iranian victory, after the Iranian regime decided to stop the talks for no apparent reason.

In its December 20, 2021 editorial, the regime mouthpiece Kayhan summarized the seventh round of the talks as follows:

"Iran is the greatest victor in the Vienna talks, whether these negotiations succeed or fail, taking into account Iran's focus on economic diplomacy and on its regional and international trade alliances, and the upper hand of the resistance axis in the regional developments. If America accepts Iran's legal and legitimate conditions and its demands to completely lift all the sanctions, this means a great victory for the Iranian people! And if [America] does not, by neutralizing the sanctions and improving the economic situation, Iran will continue with its nuclear program and will increase uranium enrichment from 60% to 90% if necessary, and will become a global nuclear power – and this means a great defeat for America!..."[1]

Iran Has Achieved Its Goals

The Iranian victory is in both essential and procedural issues:

Interim Goals Achieved

  • The U.S. complies with Iran's demands not to convene a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Directors so that Iran will not be publicly criticized, which could end in Iran being condemned in the UN Security Council.

It should be noted that Iran is very sensitive about international criticism of it and makes special efforts to prevent it. Iran sees itself as an injured party and as having the higher moral ground, and attributes to this stance political importance of the first degree, which it seeks to parlay into political gains.

For this reason, the Iranian regime has also demanded, and received, IAEA backing for an Iranian investigation of the sabotage of the centrifuges at the Karaj nuclear facility in June 2021. Although Iran agreed to a return of the surveillance cameras at the Karaj facility, which the West is presenting as a Western achievement, the installation of the cameras has no practical significance because the Iranian regime continues to refuse to allow the IAEA – the oversight body – to view the recorded data. Moreover, according to the Iran-IAEA agreement, the data will remain in the hands of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization (AEOI), and Iran will examine the IAEA cameras on baseless claims that they assisted in the June sabotage at Karaj.[2] In this way, the West has consented to Iranian oversight of the IAEA – the international nuclear oversight body. Furthermore, the West agreed to Iran's position even though the IAEA had complained about the disappearance of surveillance cameras and their data that Iran had in its possession.[3]


IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi demonstrates an IAEA surveillance camera. Source: Unmultimedia.org, December 17, 2021.

 

Procedural Goals Achieved – Complete Iranian Control Of How The Negotiations Are Conducted

  • The U.S. remains excluded from the negotiations, with its representatives "punished" by having to remain outside the negotiating room.

  • The Iranian regime set the negotiations' opening and closing dates, and will also set the opening date for the eighth round of talks.

  • The position paper presented by Iran at the negotiations, defined by various elements in the West as a non-starter, has been accepted for discussion in the negotiations.

Conclusion

Iran's prolonging of the negotiations neutralizes the only option at moment that is available to the West – which has made it clear that it prefers to arrive at an arrangement through dialogue – which is to force Iran to stop its nuclear violations, even temporarily.

This situation allows Iran to enjoy all possible worlds: to be seen as negotiating, and at the same time to freely advance its nuclear program.

The Biden administration and the EU-3 countries are conducting negotiations that are completely empty of content, in a process that itself does not enable the goals set out at the beginning of President Biden's term of office to be achieved. It should be stressed that Iran has made no commitment to return to the 2015 JCPOA – not even in exchange for the meeting of its demands for a lifting of all the sanctions and U.S. payment of compensation to it.

*A. Savyon is Director A. Savyon is director of the MEMRI Iran Media Project; Y. Carmon is President of MEMRI.

 

[1] Kayhan (Iran), December 20, 2021.

[2] See IAEA announcement of agreement with Iran, Iaea.org/newscenter/pressreleases/iaea-and-iran-reach-agreement-on-replacing-surveillance-cameras-at-karaj-facility, December 15, 2021.

[3] See statements by IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi, who said that it was "very strange" that data storage from an IAEA surveillance camera destroyed during the June 2021 incident at Karaj had disappeared. Unmultimedia.org/avlibrary/asset/2698/2698635, IAEA, December 17, 2021.

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