Despite all the time and effort spent after negotiations to revive the P5+1 nuclear deal signed with Iran in 2015, from which then-President Donald Trump pulled out, the fate of the agreement appears to be in limbo. The European and US sides are skeptical about the seriousness of Iranian intentions to revive the agreement.
In a recent joint statement, France and Britain expressed “serious doubts” about the three countries’ fears that Iran could commit to reviving the agreement. Tehran continues to develop its nuclear program on such a scale that it is hard to believe it is for peaceful purposes.
We believe there are several reasons why the three European countries are frustrated and distrustful of Iran’s intentions, particularly the changes that have led the European side to increase its efforts and pressure to revive the agreement.
By this we mean the energy shortage and the desire of the West to benefit from the return of Iranian oil to the world energy markets, even if only at the level of calming the markets and prices, but not at the level of quantities. These are the same variables that make Tehran bitter, intransigent, and willing to negotiate according to the all-or-nothing rule.
The Iranian regime believes that it will not find a better negotiating environment than the current one. Tehran senses the depth of the energy crisis in Europe. It is pushing hard for all of its demands to be met or for the agreement to fail.
The second reason for the Europeans’ reluctance is Iran’s unyielding demands, especially Iran’s demand that the IAEA stop investigating the issue of uranium particles found in the three secret facilities. This means nothing more than shelving the matter and concealing Iran’s secret nuclear activities. This demand certainly undermines the outcome of any possible agreement to revive a nuclear deal.
It would mean complete submission of the West to Iranian warmongering. Moreover, compliance with this demand indicates Tehran’s confidence that IAEA investigations will uncover more than has been announced and that Western and Israeli intelligence agencies have gained knowledge of Iran’s clandestine nuclear activities. The agency appears to have stepped to the edge of the Iranian secret gate.
Iran is not afraid to reveal its nuclear secrets. Of course, Western capitals know that Tehran is close to having military nuclear capability. In this regard, there is not much new to add.
But what is new above all is that the conclusions of the West in this regard are confirmed. Second, the revelation of the role of the secret nuclear facilities, geographically scattered all over Iran, in Iran’s nuclear program. Hence, the possibility of targeting these facilities according to their importance and role in possible military actions.
The skepticism from the European side is long overdue. Because we believe that from the beginning there have been doubts about Iran’s agendas and the seriousness of its intentions. The Europeans are more understanding than the US side and, because of historical ties, especially on the British side, know Iran’s negotiating culture, origins, references, and goals.
Moreover, the US negotiating team, led by Robert Malley, lacks rigor and toughness toward Iranian maneuvers. Disagreements over how to proceed even led to the removal of Richard Nephew, the US deputy special envoy to Iran, from the negotiating team several months ago. Several reports in the US press confirmed that Nephew left after disagreements within the US negotiating team.
He advocated a tougher approach to the negotiations. Regardless of media influence and plans to sway the US negotiating position for various motives and reasons, which we do not address here, it is clear that throughout the past period Robert Malley has negotiated according to an approach that has missed many opportunities for the US.
He gave Iran opportunity after opportunity to buy time and drag out negotiations in order to take advantage of internal pressures that the White House may have been under to push for concessions in order to reach an agreement that would save face for President Biden.
Iran has already tried this scenario with former President Obama’s administration, which included Robert Malley, and succeeded in reaching an agreement that served as a formal cover to dismantle all of its nuclear and geostrategic plans at the regional and international levels. Question. What do Europeans gain from doubting Iran’s intentions and seriousness of purpose?
The answer is that the European side has no effective cards at the moment to put pressure on Iran, fully aware of this and has long considered the European mediators as a necessary link.
However, the consequences of the crisis in Ukraine, which have bolstered Iran’s negotiating position, have completely changed the rules of the game and put the European and American sides in a critical position from which Tehran is trying to maximize strategic advantage.
Dr. Salem AlKetbi is a UAE political analyst