The European Union trusts that Iran will return to the negotiating table on the nuclear pact as soon as a new government is formed after the inauguration last Thursday of Ebrahim Raisí as the country’s new president. The international community had doubts about the intentions of the ultra-conservative Raisí in relation to the negotiations started in Vienna under the previous presidency of Hasan Rohaní, considered by analysts to be much more moderate than the new cleric.
Community sources indicate, however, that everything indicates that the new executive will resume contacts, interrupted on June 20 after the presidential elections in Iran, and that as soon as in September the negotiating teams of all the parties involved could return to Vienna ( Germany, France, the United Kingdom, the United States, Russia and China, with the EU as facilitator of the sought agreement).
Community diplomacy, led by the High Representative for Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell, attended Raisí’s inauguration with the presence in Tehran of the Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service, Enrique Mora. Mora’s participation in the ceremony contrasts with the absence of numerous Western governments, who boycotted the ceremony because of the repressive past of the new president, and was criticized by Iranian human rights organizations and by Israel.
A senior European diplomatic official claims to “understand the criticism even though it seems to us totally unjustified.” Brussels defends that Mora’s presence in Tehran responds to the European strategy followed for years, which involves maintaining diplomatic contact with Iran and, at the same time, condemning and punishing any violation of human rights.
For European diplomacy, in addition, the inauguration provided the opportunity to press live the will to resume the negotiations interrupted in Vienna. According to community sources, Mora communicated in Tehran his desire to hold a meeting to address the situation regarding the nuclear agreement. The designated interlocutor was Hosein Amir Abdollahian, a veteran diplomat who was already at the top of the Iranian Foreign Ministry when the nuclear deal with Barack Obama was concluded in the White House and under the Iranian presidency of Rohaní.
“The Iranians say they will return to Vienna as soon as they can,” says a community diplomat familiar with the outcome of Mora’s visit to Tehran. The same source adds that “our impression is that they will return to the negotiating table as soon as they form a new government and appoint their negotiating team.”
The Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had already been in favor of reactivating the nuclear pact. But Brussels acknowledges that there are still numerous uncertainties about the steps that Raisí will take, but they estimate that the seventh round of negotiations in Vienna could start as soon as September. Community sources indicate that Borrell’s department informed the United States, Russia and China of the new scenario after the contacts maintained by Mora in Tehran.
“The EU continues to think that the most likely scenario continues to be that an agreement is reached in Vienna,” said the senior European diplomatic post after the changing of the guard in Tehran. And he adds that “the Iranians have not mentioned to us that they are considering another possibility or any plan B.” Community diplomacy is convinced that “without an agreement, the situation in the area and in the world in general would be much worse.”
The pact for the denuclearization of Iran, achieved in 2015 thanks in large part to the impulse of the EU, was left in the air after the US withdrawal during the term of Donald Trump. Washington imposed economic sanctions against the Iranian regime and Tehran responded by re-launching its plan to try to take over the atomic bomb and become a nuclear power, a scenario highly feared by the international community and, above all, by Israel. .
Brussels managed, despite everything, to keep the pact alive during the Trump era and Iran did not take any irreversible step towards its rupture despite the severe economic punishment inflicted by the United States.After the arrival of Joe Biden to the White House in January This year, all parties began a negotiation aimed at reestablishing the pact to curb uranium enrichment in Iran in exchange for the withdrawal of US sanctions.
For Borrell, whose department coordinates the negotiations in Vienna, the recovery of the nuclear pact would be a considerable success and a tribute to the work of his predecessors who, from Javier Solana to Federica Mogherini, invested a large part of their mandates in containing the nuclearization of Iran.
Instead, Trump and former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu considered the agreement with Tehran a mistake and were in favor of economically and politically asphyxiating the Iranian regime. Israel maintains its rejection of the negotiations to recover the nuclear pact and the tension in the area, with the pro-Iranian guerrilla Hezbollah launching rockets against Israeli territory and the suspicion that Iran is behind the recent drone attack in the Gulf of Oman against an oil tanker. , complicates the return to the negotiating table in Vienna.
But the serious economic crisis that Iran suffers as a result of the US sanctions will force President Raisí, in all probability, to seek an agreement with the international community. The growing discontent of the population was evident in the June elections, when Raisí clearly defeated Rohaní but with the lowest turnout (48.8%) in the history of the Islamic Republic. In addition, 14% invalid votes were registered in a clear gesture of civil disobedience and protest against the regime.