Eleventh-hour negotiations for a renewed nuclear control agreement with Iran began Thursday at the United Nations in Vienna as Iran teeters on the verge of producing a nuclear weapon.
Previous efforts to renegotiate an Obama-era agreement that would put a temporary cap on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief collapsed in March, with both sides accusing each other of attempting to force unrelated issues into the final deal. U.S. officials involved in the European Union-mediated talks Thursday expressed pessimism regarding the outcome, while some experts note that the deal currently on the table would have little impact on Iran’s maturing nuclear program.
“Their only interest is economic relief, and no agreement reached in Vienna will constrain their nuclear ambitions in any way,” Victoria Coates, former deputy national security advisor to President Trump and advisory board member at the Vandenberg Coalition, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell proposed a revised version of the nuclear deal in late July, saying that “space for additional compromises” had been “exhausted.” Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani announced Wednesday a delegation would travel to Vienna to engage in talks, and U.S. envoy Rob Malley also stated Wednesday he would engage in further discussions.
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“In order to reach a deal, Iran will have to drop demands that are extraneous to the JCPOA,” a State Department spokesperson told the DCNF. “We hope that will be the case, though at this stage our overall expectations remain low.”
Borrell’s nuclear deal is based on the March text, the spokesperson added.
Since negotiations failed earlier in 2021, Iran declared it has the capability to produce a nuclear weapon and ramped upenrichment processes in response to escalating U.S. sanctions. The Biden administration hopes a return to a plan similar to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action former President Donald Trump withdrew from in 2018 will ease security concerns in the Middle East by restricting Iran’s nuclear program to peaceful uses.
Experts say the current version of the deal would not address other security issues, like Iran’s support for terrorist proxy groups throughout the region and failure to maintain transparency regarding its nuclear activity.
“The deal on the table in Vienna would be a disaster for U.S. national security. It fails to destroy a single centrifuge, maintains Iran’s pathways to nuclear weapons, requires no disclosure of clandestine nuclear activities and provides the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism with $1 trillion by 2030,” Richard Goldberg, senior adviser at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and Vandenberg Coalition advisory board member, told the DCNF.
President Biden said in July he remained committed to diplomacy but would employ “all forms of national power” to prevent a nuclear Iran.
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