Iran’s nuke deal: Don’t expect any last-minute game changers

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry clinched a deal in Kabul and then headed towards Vienna for another important deal

Camelia Entekhabi-Fard

Published: Updated:

United States Secretary of State John Kerry clinched a deal in Kabul and then headed towards Vienna for another important deal. This time, however, the deal is not between two rival politicians as it was in Afghanistan.

Kerry arrived in Vienna on Sunday to see if he can also clinch the deal between seven countries: the P5+1 (five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany) - who are negotiating with Iran as the interim agreement between them over Iran’s nuclear file expires on July 20.

“Obviously we have some very significant gaps still, so we need to see if we can make some progress,” Kerry said to the press ahead of meetings on Sunday in Vienna. In spite of the high possibilities of reaching the deal before the deadline approaching the parties, Iran and the U.S. are preparing the public for the probability of failure.

Iran and the U.S. both like to keep expectations low in case the talks break down

Camelia Entekhabi-Fard

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi - Iran’s second man in the negotiation team - made similar statements. He was quoted by al-Alam television as saying that “disputes over all major and important issues still remain. We have not been able to narrow the gaps on major issues and it is not clear whether we can do it.”

Positive atmosphere

While the atmosphere is positive in Vienna, as the potential of reaching the comprehensive deal rises with Kerry’s arrival, still Iran and the U.S. both like to keep the expectations low in case the talks break down. But, if the negotiations fail and the parties don’t extend the interim deal for another six months, what could the consequences be?

The consequences of Iran not having a deal will be dire economically, but does it mean that Iran will turn into the next North Korea by walking away from the negotiations table?

Iran has demonstrated, particularly since Hassan Rowhani’s election, that it has the political will to re-enter into serious negotiations with the international community on its nuclear program. With all the noise Iran made during all these years and two sets of broken down talks in 2003 and 2005, it has long touted that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. Whether or not it’s true, it shows that Iran cares about its appearance on the world stage. North Korea, on the other hand, has long touted that its program will be for military purposes.

North Korea does not seem to care about the international repercussions and affirming their desire, but for Iran the scenario is totally different and this shows, actually, Iran cares a lot.

Even the comparison between the two nations- Iran and North Korea- show different desires for each of them.

Young, energetic, social and fashionable – that is what a large chunk of Iran’s population is as compared with North Korea’s isolated population. Iran’s geography, its political dimensions and its geopolitical needs won’t allow this country to act in an unprecedented manner and tread North Korea’s path even if the regime is willing to take such steps.

Also, North Korea does not have a “Rowhani” or a “Zarif,” or an outspoken population which demands that the economic conditions of their country improve. It’s obvious that Iran recognizes that to progress as a nation and avoid catastrophic economic decline, it must reach the deal, no matter if it happens by the end of the week or during the coming up extension.

The economy matters

All Iran’s talk about a “resistance economy,” still can’t be separated from its need to be interdependent of the global system and international marketing. Iran’s strong business relations with its neighbors have been effected by international sanctions and its restoration has high priority for Rowhani and his team as his part of plan to improve the economy in the short term.

All these facts are strong evidences showing Iran is sincere about reaching the deal even if it doesn’t happen during this six month interim agreement.

Both Barack Obama and Hassan Rowhani have trusted men in Vienna to clinch the deal; John Kerry the Secretary of State and Hussein Ferdion, special assistant to Rowhani. The future looks bright despite the stumbling blocks in the way.


Camelia Entekhabi-Fard is a journalist, news commentator and writer who grew up during the Iranian Revolution and wrote for leading reformist newspapers. She is also the author of Camelia: Save Yourself by Telling the Truth - A Memoir of Iran. She lives in New York City and Dubai. She can be found on Twitter: @CameliaFard

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