Today, representatives of Russia, the EU, and Iran gathered in Vienna to resume negotiations over the revival of the 2015 nuclear agreement. Not present were American delegates, who—at Tehran’s insistence—are only participating through European intermediaries. That alone renders the talks a “pantomime wrapped in farce inside a charade,” writes Bobby Ghosh:
Since the previous round of negotiations five months ago, Iran has repeatedly signaled that it isn’t serious about the restoration of its 2015 deal with the world powers, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). If anything, it has gone out of its way to sabotage the talks.
The most obvious manifestation of this is Iran’s refusal to talk directly with the U.S. . . . Another clue is the extreme stance the regime is adopting ahead of the talks. It is insisting that the U.S. lift all economic sanctions, including those concerning non-nuclear violations of international norms, as a precondition for an Iranian return to the terms of the agreement. And it is demanding that President Joe Biden provide an ironclad guarantee that a future occupant of the White House won’t pull a Donald Trump and rescind the deal. If the first of these terms is absurd, the second is impossible.
Why, one might reasonably ask, has Iran agreed to resume talks at all? Because the regime reckons that as long as it keeps talking, the Biden administration will cling to hope that a nuclear deal can be achieved and hold off on imposing more sanctions. Intermittent and interminable negotiations give the Islamic Republic cover to keep enriching uranium at ever faster rates, in breach of its JCPOA obligations.