JEDDAH: Western politicians and diplomats have largely given up hope of reviving the nuclear deal with Iran and are looking at other ways to curb Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, according to expert analysts.
There is a growing belief among negotiators from the major powers that the agreement, under which Iran restrained its nuclear program in return for relief from economic sanctions, may be beyond salvation.
“They are not yanking the IV out of the patient’s arm … but I sense little expectation that there is a positive way forward,” one diplomatic source told the Reuters news agency. Four Western diplomats also described hopes of a revived deal as “withering away.”
The agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program — the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, signed in 2015 but abandoned by the US in 2018 — appeared on the brink of revival in early March after lengthy talks in Vienna. However, Tehran brought progress to a halt by demanding that the US remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from its official list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations.
Aides to US President Joe Biden say that if Washington were to take a such step, then Tehran must also address issues outside the deal — including its regional meddling, and its ballistic missile program.
“If they’re not prepared to drop extraneous demands, continue to insist on lifting the FTO, and refuse to address our concerns that go beyond the JCPOA then, yes, we’re going to reach an impasse that is probably not going to be surmountable,” said a senior US official.
“I don’t think anybody wants to say enough is enough,” one Western diplomat said. “Does this go on indefinitely with neither side conceding that it’s over? Probably.”