Two things that cause a breakdown in talks

Hamidreza Asefi
Hamidreza Asefi

A former Foreign Ministry spokesman says parties to the nuclear talks need to appreciate realities before they can reach a final comprehensive deal.

A former Iranian diplomat says that everyone should be ready for prolonged talks as long as sanctions remain in place and the US fails to drop its acquisitiveness.

Hamidreza Asefi, a former Foreign Ministry spokesman, says that parties to the talks know that negotiations would be of no use unless they agree on a modality to lift the sanctions.

That futility remains the case as long as the US thinks that sanctions can bring Iran to its knees. Furthermore, there are multiple beneficiaries each of which can impact the [ongoing] talks.

Parsine, a news website, on March 7 ran an interview with Asefi, asking him about the likelihood of a nuclear deal between Iran and P5+1. The following is a partial translation of what he had to say:

[…]

When do you think the talks will end conclusively?

Excessive demands by the US are [one of] the reasons why talks are dragging on. As long as the White House wrongly believes that Iran badly needs a nuclear deal, conclusiveness of the talks remains a remote possibility. Unfortunately the simple-minded approaches of certain media outlets and [political] groups at home give rise to such misconception.

What you are saying now has been raised for ten years. So what kind of progress have we made in the talks?

Unlike in the past, the two sides are interested in having a deal and need such a deal. The two sides share a will to agree on areas of difference. However, we should not forget that a ten-year nuclear crisis will not be settled in a matter of a few months. Multiple individuals or groups – among them regional rivals, Israel and other countries – are beneficiaries in Iran’s nuclear case. These beneficiaries will impede the talks unless their interests are served.

Does it mean that Israel and regional Arab countries are the main obstacles standing in the way of a deal?

All these factors come into play, but the main hurdle to an agreement is on American soil. As long as they think that Iran can be forced to submission under the pressure of sanctions, conclusion of a deal would be a remote possibility.

The US Congress too is an important factor contributing – so far – to failure to clinch a deal. Unfortunately, Iran’s nuclear case has turned into the bone of contention in partisan bickering between two rivals in the US. And domestic issues in America come at the expense of Iran’s nuclear case.

Some believe that the White House is seeking to arrive at an agreement, but Congress throws a wrench into the works? What’s your take on that?

I’ve heard about than notion. It’s too simplistic. The White House’s acquisitive stances should not be ignored. If we fail to take these stances into account, we will make miscalculations.

The White House thinks Iran will be destroyed without a nuclear deal, but it is a misconception on the American part. A nuclear deal will not be inked any time soon as long as Washington sticks to such mentality.

If the US appreciates the realities, conclusion of a deal by July, or even before that, is not a distant possibility. I think a deal could be within reach if the two sides act realistically.

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