As nuclear talks resume in Vienna, the game has just begun

Having spent a couple decades in and around failing Arab-Israeli negotiations, I know a negotiation that’s in serious trouble when I see one. The Iran nuclear negotiations that resumed this week in Vienna after a suspension of almost five months are a case in point.

As nuclear talks resume in Vienna, the game has just begun
© EU Delegation in Vienna/Reuters Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS) Enrique Mora and Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani wait for the start of a meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission in Vienna, Austria November 29, 2021.

Indeed, right now, probably neither the Biden administration nor Iran’s Supreme Leader believes a mutually acceptable agreement is feasible. And it’s not so certain that one of the parties — Iran, which seems to be using the talks as cover to ramp up its nuclear program — believes that an accord is even desirable right now.

All of which is to say that the game has just begun, and the outcome will be neither a quick accord nor a collapse. Instead, we’re likely in for a prolonged game of maneuvering and pressure by each side to achieve what they want, or failing that, to ensure that , if talks do crater, the other side takes the lion’s share of the blame.

As a general rule, an impasse in negotiations is broken when there are sufficient amounts of pain and gain present to change the parties’ calculations. As anyone who’s been a part of a negotiation will tell you — whether it’s with the Israelis, Palestinians, or Russians — pressure and pain alone rarely if ever work, especially when a nation perceives its vital interests are at stake.

President Trump’s maximum-pressure campaign against Iran is an example. Sanctions severely damaged Iran’s economy, but they didn’t force Iran to make concessions; in fact, Trump’s sanctions resulted in Iran ramping up its nuclear program.

The challenge facing the negotiations today is that the factors that led to the 2015 Iran nuclear accord are all missing. As US Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley noted, the combination of pressure and inducements that led to the previous accord are no longer in alignment.

Moreover, the unilateral US withdrawal from the accord; Iran’s breaching of the agreement by expanding its uranium enrichment, after initially adhering to the pact after the US abandoned it; additional US sanctions; Iran’s refusal to allow IAEA monitoring of sensitive nuclear sites have not only shattered what trust and confidence existed, particularly between the US and Iran; but also raised serious questions — with some key provisions due to sunset by 2025 — about whether the original agreement was becoming obsolete and irrelevant.

To make matters worse, since US withdrawal from the accord in 2018, the politics on both sides have hardened significantly. A new, harder-line Iranian government came to power in June and the Supreme Leader — clearly never a fan of the original accord — has now publicly admitted it was a mistake.

The uptick of withering criticism of the previous Rouhani government by a new foreign minister and of the very process of negotiations by a new harder-line lead negotiator have created a set of fanciful demands that will be hard for Iran to simply amend or drop without additional concessions from Washington.

As for the Americans, the Biden administration’s intention to rejoin the accord was complicated by the President’s other priorities; the new web of sanctions imposed on Iran by his predecessor; by Biden himself; and by growing opposition by Republicans and some Democrats alike to an accord that didn’t cover Iran’s efforts to spread its influence in the region, especially its support for pro-Iranian groups striking US military bases in Syria and Iraq and its burgeoning ballistic missile programs.

Indeed, even if, by some miracle, Biden was able to rejoin the nuclear deal anytime soon, it would likely be a political liability for a president whose approval ratings are tanking. One can be forgiven for imagining Biden’s political advisers urging him to delay any would-be reentry into the reviled (at least by some in Washington) JCPOA.

Suffice to say, things don’t look good as a seventh round of negotiations between Iran, the Europeans, Russians and Chinese opened in Vienna. (Iran still refuses to meet directly with the US.)

Whatever else happens in Vienna this week, not a great deal of progress is likely to be made. Indeed, if Iran comes back with new and fanciful demands, as its foreign minister and lead negotiator have recently outlined — i.e., that the talks have nothing to do with the nuclear issue, only removing ”inhumane” US sanctions, one can imagine a game of gotcha with each side trying to persuade its friends and the rest of the world that it’s the other party who’s being unreasonable. Former Secretary of State James A. Baker called this tactic ”dead cat diplomacy,” where he’d lay the dead cat at the doorstep of the most recalcitrant party.

Malley, the US envoy, hinted at such an approach in a recent BBC interview where he suggested that if Iran overplayed its hand, the world would come to see that Tehran had a chance to strike a deal but chose not to.

Iran is preparing its own talking points to try and lay the blame at Washington’s door, asking how Iran can enter another deal without a US guarantee that it won’t bolt again. Iran will be counting on Russia and China to take its side in the gotcha sweepstakes.

This round of negotiations may initially turn on what Iran brings back to the table after a delay of five months. And it’s likely that neither the US, Iran or the Europeans, Russia and China want the talks to end. But if they do, we’ll be lucky to escape with a game of gotcha.

Alternatives to reentering the JCPOA — a smaller deal, less sanctions relief for fewer curbs on Iran’s nuclear activities or a longer and stronger accord that extends the curbs on Iran’s nuclear activities — seem unrealistic. Israel’s so-called Plan B discussed with the Biden administration — more sanctions; cyber war; and threat of military action against Iran’s nuclear sites — is a plan that Biden, preoccupied with domestic priorities, doesn’t want to embrace.

The last thing the President needs now is an Iranian-Israeli blow-up that drags the US into a war with Tehran. But if negotiations don’t succeed, sooner or later that may be where we’re heading. As one British journalist wrote, there’s more snow in Vienna these days than optimism.

As nuclear talks resume in Vienna, the game has just begun
© Courtesy Aaron David Miller Aaron David Miller

News Related

OTHER NEWS

Video of alleged white nationalists door-knocking in Alabama goes viral on TikTok

© TikTok user @itsmalloryh A home security camera video showing alleged white nationalists going door-to-door in Alabama has gone viral on TikTok – TikTok user @itsmalloryh A home security camera ... Read more »

UK ‘considering sending hundreds of troops to Eastern Europe' amid Russia-Ukraine crisis

© AP Members of Ukraine‘s Territorial Defense Forces – AP British military officials are reportedly deciding whether to send hundreds of troops to Eastern Europe after Washington asked the UK ... Read more »

Oklahoma City woman accuses ex-lawmaker of sexual misconduct

© The Oklahoman/Gannett Lawmaker Resignation Assault Allegation – The Oklahoman/Gannett An Oklahoma state lawmaker who resigned abruptly last week has been accused by an Oklahoma City lobbyist of touching her ... Read more »

Liverpool news: Jurgen Klopp seeks midfield solution as academy prospect praised

Liverpool youngster Mateusz Musialowski has been praised by another one of his Liverpool teammates. The academy player, who has been dubbed “the Polish Messi”, is said to have left Reds ... Read more »

LGBTQ Afghans at increased risk of rape, torture under Taliban rule: report

A report published Wednesday said that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Afghanistan have faced increased security threats to their lives and “dramatically worsened” conditions since the Taliban took ... Read more »

Large percentage of NY municipalities won't allow legal weed sales

Southampton, along with several Long Island towns, will not permit the sale of recreational marijuana. Shutterstock Some of Long Island’s most popular summer hot spots aren’t high on legal weed ... Read more »

Psaki grows defensive when asked about Biden-Xi talk on COVID origins

White House press secretary Jen Psaki bristled Wednesday when asked about President Biden’s claim that he pressed Chinese President Xi Jinping to be transparent about the origins of COVID-19 — ... Read more »

James Harden's frustration not only uncertainty facing Nets' Big 3

When the Nets put their Big 3 together, they did so with the hope that their trademark characteristic would be winning. Instead, their first full season together — especially what’s ... Read more »

Inside Rangers' contract talks with Ryan Strome, option they won't choose

Regarding the Rangers, one off the NHL lead in overall victories and in regulation victories as of Wednesday afternoon: 1. The Blueshirts are engaged in ongoing talks with the representatives ... Read more »

Pyongyang fires two suspected ballistic missiles: South Korea

© Provided by Al Jazeera North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has presided over a flurry of missile tests this month [File: KCNA via Reuters] North Korea fired what appeared ... Read more »

Catalonia pardons women executed for witchcraft

© Getty Images Tens of thousands – mostly women – were condemned to death across Europe (illustration from 15th century Switzerland) The Catalan regional parliament has formally pardoned hundreds of ... Read more »

France, 14 countries ask Mali to let Danish forces stay -statement

© Reuters/PAUL LORGERIE FILE PHOTO: A soldier is pictured at the headquarters of the new Takuba force in Gao PARIS (Reuters) – France and 14 other countries urged Mali late ... Read more »

AmEx soars most since 2020 after card spending hits record

American Express Co surged the most in more than a year after the card giant boosted forecasts for revenue and profit and said spending on its cards climbed to a ... Read more »

Federal court blocks Alabama's new congressional map

A federal court blocked Alabama’s newly drawn congressional map on Monday, ruling that it likely violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act because it only includes one district where ... Read more »

Wall Street experts zero in on just how the Fed might drain liquidity

Wall Street analysts have been busy war-gaming just how quickly the Federal Reserve might start shrinking its balance sheet. Now attention is also turning to exactly which parts of the ... Read more »

Goldman, Citigroup strategists say it's now time to buy equity rout

After a sell-off that put global stocks on course for their worst month since the start of the pandemic, strategists from Goldman Sachs Group to Citigroup say it’s now time ... Read more »

Nearly 30% Of People Are Most Excited For This Comedy Movie In 2022

Universal Pictures/YouTube The decade of the 2020s has been rough so far, to say the least, and the entertainment world hasn’t snuck by unscathed. As a result of the COVID-19 ... Read more »

Extra Push: Capex outlay in FY23 pegged at Rs 10.5 lakh crore

© Provided by The Financial Express The Centre via Budget may invest 18% more in FY23 than in FY22 at around Rs 6.53 lakh crore to retain its budgetary capex ... Read more »

'Inflation no reason for ECB to change track'

The European Central Bank has no need to fundamentally change its assessment of the inflation outlook or accelerate policy tightening, according to Governing Council member Gediminas Simkus. Euro-area monetary policy ... Read more »

Billionaire investor Bill Ackman reveals a $1.1 billion Netflix stake — and says his hedge fund bought about 3.1 million shares since Friday

© Reuters/ Allen Fredrickson Bill Ackman. Reuters/ Allen Fredrickson Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square invested in Netflix, buying about 3.1 million shares since Friday. The billionaire’s hedge fund now commands a ... Read more »

Strengthen regulation of GM food; ‘Ban GM food'-demand unreasonable

© Provided by The Financial Express The provision in the draft regulation that holds that FSSAI approval of a specific GM-origin food/ingredient holding unique identification from the Biosafety Clearing House ... Read more »

Farm Factor: Fasal Bima cover sees a big drop

By Sandip Das The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY), the crop insurance scheme jointly sponsored by the Centre and states, is facing the twin problems of many state governments ... Read more »

Adele sparks fears her Las Vegas residency will never happen after stage set is removed and major artist fills her slot

ADELE fans are growing increasingly worried the singer will never perform her Las Vegas residency after tearfully cancelling her first gig with just hours to spare. The Brit superstar's Weekends ... Read more »

US Fed is far behind the curve on controlling inflation

© Provided by The Financial Express Only twice before in modern history, in early 1975 and again in mid-1980, did the Fed allow the real funds rate to plunge to ... Read more »

The Emotional On-Set Moment That Bonded The Spider-Man: No Way Home Cast

Marvel Entertainment/YouTube Many fans still don’t seem to be over “Spider-Man: No Way Home” following its release. It is, after all, the only film so far to feature all three actors who have ... Read more »

2022 Farmers Insurance Open Thursday tee times, TV and ESPN+ streaming info

The PGA Tour’s West Coast swing has moved from the Coachella desert to the San Diego coast for this week’s 2022 Farmers Insurance Open. © File photo Farmers Insurance Open ... Read more »

Fear the beard: Unshaven Michael Thompson fires 64, trails Billy Horschel by one after first round of Farmers Insurance Open

SAN DIEGO – The beard works. © File photo Farmers Insurance Open Michael Thompson, who makes one think of Grizzly Adams when they take a glance, began growing his now ... Read more »

Parti lain ‘intai' P Pinang kerana DAP hilang sokongan, kata penganalisis

© Provided by Free Malaysia Today UEC yang tidak diiktiraf dan rasa kurang senang terhadap Dr Mahathir Mohamad adalah dua sebab mengapa pengundi Cina di Pulau Pinang mungkin menolak DAP, ... Read more »

Australia news live update: nation records at least 59 Covid deaths; national cabinet to discuss if ‘fully vaccinated' means three doses

LIVE – Updated at 01:18 Follow all the day’s news live.   01:18 Today we have recorded 11,600 new COVID-19 cases. Sadly, we have reported 15 deaths in the past ... Read more »

Waxwork model of the Queen is left BALD under her hat

It doesn’t show the Queen at her elegant best – to put it baldly. German wax museum Panoptikum yesterday revealed that – because of the cost of hair – its ... Read more »

Christian Pulisic the latest player to admit to Chelsea troubles

Christian Pulisic has become the latest player to open up on his struggles at Chelsea after a tough season. The £58m winger has struggled to nail down a regular starting ... Read more »

Female footballers in England get maternity cover after landmark change

Professional female footballers in England are to benefit from maternity and long-term sickness cover in a landmark change to their contracts. The move was hailed as a “great step forward” ... Read more »

Whitecaps' ‘top guy' Marcus Godinho defying odds to stick with club

Marvin Emnes. Michael Chirinos. Roberto Dominguez. Tiago Ulisses. Even Nosa Igiebor. © Provided by The Province Marcus Godinho was brought back by the Vancouver Whitecaps after 2021, one of the ... Read more »

Windsor TFC, Tecumseh SC excited by new League1 format change

Competitive soccer is about to get much more challenging for two area teams. © Provided by Windsor Star Windsor TFC will be playing for a bigger prize along with Tecumseh ... Read more »

Man pictured wearing 'Camp Auschwitz' sweatshirt during Capitol riot pleads guilty to one misdemeanor charge

© ITN/Department of Justice Man pictured wearing ‘Camp Auschwitz’ sweatshirt during Capitol riot pleads guilty to one misdemeanor charge A man photographed wearing an antisemitic sweatshirt during the Capitol riot ... Read more »

Kerala minister hoists national flag upside down, triggers row

© Provided by The Indian Express Kerala Minister Ahamed Devarkovil triggered a row on Wednesday after he hoisted the national flag upside down in Kasaragod on the occasion of Republic ... Read more »

Biden order makes sexual harassment in US military a crime

© Nicholas Kamm An executive order signed by US President Joe Biden that makes sexual harassment a crime in the military includes provisions on domestic violence and the wrongful broadcast ... Read more »

13 science-backed tips to stay focused and avoid distractions

© BartekSzewczyk/Getty Images 13 science-backed tips to stay focused and avoid distractions To improve focus and productivity, build healthy habits like getting enough sleep and exercise. Multitasking and social media ... Read more »

PM Narendra Modi to host first India-Central Asia Summit today

© Provided by Zee News New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to host the first India-Central Asia Summit on Thursday (January 27, 2022) in a virtual format. During ... Read more »

Delhi L-G to chair DDMA meet as active Covid caseload dips. What's on agenda?

© Provided by Hindustan Times A deserted view of Lajpat Nagar market as New Delhi observes weekend curfew. (ANI) The Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) will meet today to discuss ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic