Vienna talks at risk due to Western miscalculations


Over the last few weeks, Iran has reiterated its firm commitments to diplomacy but Tehran’s openness was met with Western procrastination. 

While the unrest in Iran has subsided to a large extent, the United States and some of its European allies appear to be still living in a parallel world where Iran’s political system is on its last leg. And that perception of Iran’s developments seems to have heavily impacted the Western countries’ policy toward Iran. 

This miscalculation was on full display in France, whose president called the developments in Iran a “revolution” and drew the ire of Iran’s authorities. 

In a rare move by a Western leader, French President Emanuel Macron qualified the events taking place in Iran as a “revolution” twice in a matter of three days. More importantly, he distanced himself from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and called for a new framework for addressing the tattered deal. 

“This revolution changes many things,” Macron said. “I don’t think there will be new proposals which can be made right now [to save the nuclear deal],” he said, according to Reuters. 

The atmosphere in Paris seems to have impacted Rob Malley, the U.S. envoy for Iran, who was once described as being soft on Iran. 

Like Macron, Malley mixed the unrest with the talks over resurrecting the JCPOA. Malley said the U.S. is no longer pushing for the resuscitation of the JCOPA due to “protests” in Iran and its alleged provision of drones to Russia for use in the Ukraine war. 

Speaking to reporters in Paris, the U.S. special envoy said for now Washington would continue a policy of sanctions and pressure.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell was quick to underline the JCPOA and the Iranian drones are two different things. 

Responding to a question on the link between Iran’s alleged military assistance to Russia and the JCPOA, Borrell said, “Look, they are different issues. The JCPOA is a tasking of the United Nations Security Council, I am acting as Coordinator of the negotiations in order to review a deal to prevent Iran from becoming nuclear. It is following its path with a lot of difficulties and stalemates, it is still there. Let’s see what is happening. It has nothing to do with other issues, which certainly concern us.”

Differentiating between the JCPOA and other issues, however, did not cover up the West’s confusion and miscalculation regarding Iran. So far, Iran has remained steadfast in favoring diplomacy. But the West has largely refrained from engaging positively due to its miscalculations on the unrest in Iran. 
On Monday, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian spoke over the phone with Borrell to discuss the JCPOA talks. 

“The two sides discussed sanctions removal talks as well as cooperation between the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Islamic Republic of Iran,” the Iranian foreign ministry said in a statement. 

Despite sanctions and pressures from the West, Iran is still committed to reaching a fair deal on the JCPOA. But the West’s continued procrastination, which is based on new miscalculations, could push Iran into relinquishing diplomacy regarding the JCPOA talks. 

From our partner Tehran Times