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Washington's unreliability proves a liability in negotiations with Tehran

Xinhua | Updated: 2022-09-05 09:03

TEHRAN - Optimism about an imminent Iran nuclear agreement has been waning as Washington on Thursday said Tehran's latest response in negotiations to save the 2015 nuclear deal "not constructive".

Despite such ups and downs in the negotiations since they started roughly a year and a half ago, Tehran has kept skeptical about Washington's political determinations and continued commitment given the bad precedent it has set before.

The huge divide between the Democratic and Republican parties in Washington over a possible deal with Iran, and America's hardline policy towards the country have added to obstacles to a conclusion of the nuclear talks.

On Aug 8, the European Union (EU) put forward a "final text" to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), from which the United States unilaterally withdrew in 2018.

The US and Iran have since been indirectly trading changes to the EU-proposed text. After one round of exchanges, EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said he had received "reasonable" responses to the EU's draft agreement, both from Tehran and Washington.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani announced Friday that Iran had submitted its views on America's response to the draft of a possible nuclear agreement.

"The submitted text has a constructive approach with the goal of finalizing the negotiations," Kanaani said.

The JCPOA ball returned to the US court, Iran's English daily Tehran Times commented.

Similarly, "in order to maintain the forward trend prevailing in this stage of negotiations until reaching an agreement, the adoption of a 'political decision' by Washington is a necessary and mandatory step that can end long negotiations", Iran's Nour News, which is affiliated with the country's Supreme National Security Council, wrote on Saturday.

The US State Department confirmed they received Iran's reply through the EU. However, it slammed it as "not constructive".

In reaction to the negative feedback, Mohammad Marandi, an advisor to Iran's nuclear negotiation team, said Friday that "for the US, 'constructive' usually means accepting US terms. For Iran, it means a deal that is balanced and protected".

Notably, the political division and partisan battle have intensified in the US as the November midterm elections approach. Lawmakers from the Republican Party stepped up their attacks on a possible nuclear agreement being reached with Iran, and even threatened sabotage.

The US reaction to Iran's response strengthens the proposition that reaching a final agreement is "merely being delayed by America's internal problems and the decision-making weakness" of the administration of US President Joe Biden, Iran's official news agency IRNA wrote.

On the eve of mid-term congressional elections, the US president has "no desire to spend the political capital of the government and the Democratic Party on the deal", it added.

Such concerns explained Iran's consistent pursuit of guarantees from the US. "We still need a stronger text on the issue of guarantees", Iranian Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian has said recently.

In an agreement that is unstable and without guarantees, the main demand of Iran, which is the economic benefit and the investment of foreign companies in Iran, will not be realized, so such an agreement cannot be considered strong and balanced, Nour News noted.

Also, Marandi told Qatar's Al Jazeera TV network on Friday night that the important issue is that the potential accord should not include any ambiguity, which could be misused by the US in a bid to withdraw it under an excuse.

Analysts also hold that Washington's long-pursued hostile policy toward Iran, and its bullying behavior have caused continued tensions in the bilateral relationship, which constitutes a deeper reason for the protracted negotiation.

Former US President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of the agreement and reimposed unilateral sanctions on Tehran in 2018 as part of a maximum-pressure campaign.

The Trump administration was "convinced that a new set of far more oppressive sanctions would cripple the country enough to humiliate it into accepting new terms more favorable to the United States", The New York Times said.

However, Trump's gambit failed as the new sanctions "prompted the Iranian government to restart nuclear work that it had given up", it added.

Though the Biden administration has repeatedly expressed its intention to resume compliance with the JCPOA, but as Ali Bagheri Kani, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator put it, the current US administration has failed to "distance from the ominous legacy" of its predecessor.

During the negotiation process, the US has continued to double down on its threatening rhetoric against Iran and imposed new sanctions. The Iranian Foreign Ministry said in early August that the US addiction to sanctions and using them as leverage against others is a characteristic of the US hegemonic system.

Furthermore, a larger barrier to a durable deal is "Washington's use of arms sales to Middle Eastern allies to retain influence in the region", Trita Parsi, executive vice president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, wrote lately.

If the US simultaneously seeks an anti-Iran military alliance and provides ever more sophisticated weapons systems to Iran's regional rivals, such moves will cement regional divisions and will only give Iran new incentives to pursue a nuclear deterrent, he said.

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