US Backs Away From Nuclear Talks After Tehran, Under Crippling Sanctions, Aligns With Moscow

US Backs Away From Nuclear Talks After Tehran, Under Crippling Sanctions, Aligns With Moscow

Any engagement with Iran before midterm elections would be unfavorable for the Biden Administration, experts say

The US government expressed disinterest in resuming the halted nuclear talks with Iran following Tehran’s provision of drones to Moscow for use in its war on Ukraine, and violent suppression of protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini while in the custody of the morality police.

Talks on restoring the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) began in April 2021, a few months after US President Joe Biden entered office, in a bid to reverse former President Donald Trump’s 2018 withdrawal from the deal. The JCPOA was originally signed under former President Barack Obama’s administration in 2015. Since the talks to renew the agreement started last year, no deal has been reached.

“We are not seeking or asking for a new set of negotiations or renegotiation discussions on the JCPOA,” US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said on Wednesday. “That’s not what our focus is on right now. Our focus is on holding Iran accountable” for the Islamic Republic’s response to the protests, he added.

“It never ceases to amaze me what doesn’t seem to be able to soak in in terms of message delivering to the Iranian leaders,” he said, adding, “Frankly, we are just too far apart right now to have any meaningful discussions.”

Fereydoun Barkeshli is a Vienna-based energy and Iran affairs consultant, a retired general manager at the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, and a former senior adviser on international affairs to Iran’s minister of petroleum. He told The Media Line that without additional rounds of negotiations, which are now on hold, the deal is not likely to be signed under the current conditions.

“There is a possibility but I consider it distant,” he said.

Barkeshli added that several major events which occurred within a relatively short period of time changed the context of the negotiations. Among them, he cited the Russo-Ukrainian War, the consequent US and EU sanctions on Russia, the recent deterioration in US-Saudi Arabia ties, and the unrest in Iran.

Richard Bronze, the head of geopolitics at Energy Aspects, told The Media Line that the White House has been increasingly negative about the prospects for a new nuclear deal, even before the above-mentioned events.

In the summer, he noted, there was a big push by the EU to overcome the remaining disagreements between Washington and Tehran. Yet “both the US and the Europeans felt that Iran did not offer enough flexibility and was introducing new demands leading the Western side to become very pessimistic about achieving a breakthrough,” he added.

Robert Silverman, a former senior US diplomat in the Middle East and lecturer in the Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Department at Shalem College in Jerusalem, told The Media Line that President Biden still prefers a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear problem.

However, he added that, from the perspective of US domestic politics, “the White House knows that it would not be smart to conclude a deal with Iran while there is this violent crackdown on the street protests.”

Nadeem Ahmed Moonakal, a researcher at Rasanah: International Institute for Iranian Studies in Riyadh, agreed, and told The Media Line, “Any attempt to engage with Iran before the midterm elections could be unfavorable for the Biden Administration as the domestic public sentiments in the US remain against the Iranian regime.”

Bronze explained that Iran was only willing to sign a deal if it could extract many more concessions than the US and EU were prepared to agree to.

Meanwhile, he added, Russia is one of the few major countries that has been willing to continue working and engaging with Iran regardless of the sanctions and the diplomatic pressure.

“I think that Iran sees an opportunity, based on the fact that Russia is now becoming similarly diplomatically isolated, to dive deep into that relationship,” said Bronze.

Moonakal added that the foreign policy of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s government has been based on strengthening the Islamic Republic’s cooperation with Russia and China, as well as exploring trade and economic cooperation with Asian and Latin American countries in a bid to alleviate its severe economic crisis.

However, he pointed out that the Iranian economy is still heavily dependent on energy revenue, and the effects of the US sanctions still limit the economic prospects of the country, making it difficult for the government to address domestic issues like unemployment and inflation.

Barkeshli said that Iran’s provision of drones to Russia was not a premeditated action to alienate the US or negatively affect the nuclear negotiations.

“Iran’s PR policies and tactics are disastrous,” said Barkeshli. The Iranian administration and the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps looked at drone sales as a source of pride, while the Foreign Ministry was not even involved.

The ministry, according to Barkeshli, only came into the picture and tried to cope with the criticism garnered by the sales when the issue was broadly condemned by the international media.

Give the Gift of Truth This Jewish New Year

The Media Line has been leading for more than twenty years in pioneering the American independent news agency in the Middle East, arguably the first in the region. We have always stayed true to our mission: to provide you with contextual sourced and trustworthy news. In an age of fake news masquerading as journalism, The Media Line plays a crucial role in providing fact-based news that deserves your support.

We're proud of the dozens of young students we've trained in our Press and Policy Student Program who will form the vanguard of the next generation of journalists to the benefit of countless millions of news readers.

Non-profit news needs public support. please help us with your generous contributions.
The Media Line
We thank our loyal readers and wish you all the happiest of holidays.

Invest in the
Trusted Mideast
News source.
We are on the
front lines.

Personalize Your News
Upgrade your experience by choosing the categories that matter most to you.
Click on the icon to add the category to your Personalize news
Browse Categories and Topics
Wake up to the Trusted Mideast News source Mideast Daily News Email
By subscribing, you agree to The Media Line terms of use and privacy policy.
Wake up to the Trusted Mideast News source Mideast Daily News Email
By subscribing, you agree to The Media Line terms of use and privacy policy.