Indirect talks between Iran and the US in Qatar this week aimed at reviving the 2015 nuclear deal were “positive,” Iran’s top diplomat said, contradicting the US State Department which said no progress was made.
“Our assessment of the recent talks in Doha is positive,” Iranian state media quoted Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian as telling his Qatari counterpart over the phone on Wednesday.
“We are serious about reaching a good, strong and lasting agreement, and if the US is realistic, an agreement can be reached,” Amir-Abdollahian said.
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Talks between the US and Iran began in Doha on Tuesday with the two sides negotiating indirectly through European Union envoy Enrique Mora as Tehran refuses to negotiate directly with Washington.
They ended on Wednesday without “the progress the EU team as coordinator had hoped for,” Mora said on Twitter on Wednesday.
“We will keep working with even greater urgency to bring back on track a key deal for non-proliferation and regional stability,” he added.
The US State Department said “no progress” was made during the talks, blaming Iran. “We are disappointed that Iran has, yet again, failed to respond positively to the EU’s initiative and therefore that no progress was made.”
Iran “raised issues wholly unrelated to the JCPOA and apparently is not ready to make a fundamental decision on whether it wants to revive the deal or bury it,” the State Department said.
Iran’s positive assessments of the talks are meant to “inject hope to keep the process moving for as long as possible to buy time,” Jason Brodsky, policy director at United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), told Al Arabiya English.
“From Iran’s perspective, the situation is positive: it calculates the E3 (Britain, France and Germany) and the US will never leave the table and impose meaningful costs while it advances its nuclear program; it gets to export its oil to China amid lax sanctions enforcement and high prices; and builds what is sees as a resistance economy,” said Brodsky.
“Iran thinks all it has to do is offer another meeting, sound upbeat, and tell all too eager mediators like Qatar and the EU what they want to hear ¬– and nothing will change. It’s up to the E3 and the US to alter that calculus,” he added.
“Iran only loses by the nuclear talks breaking down as that would trigger snapback sanctions.”
Prior to the talks in Doha, the US and Iran had engaged for over a year in indirect talks in Vienna aimed at reviving the 2015 deal.
Negotiations stalled in March, reportedly over an Iranian demand to have the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) removed from the US Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) list. The US had designated the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization under former President Donald Trump in 2019.
The talks in Doha may be the last chance to revive the deal due to the progress Iran has made in its nuclear program.
The 2015 deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), offered Iran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.
Trump withdrew Washington from the deal in 2018 and reimposed sweeping sanctions on Tehran, saying the deal failed to address Iran’s ballistic missile program and regional activities, and it did not block Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon.
Iran, which insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only, responded by expanding its nuclear program, breaching most of the deal’s restrictions.
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