Analysis: Quest for extra leverage drives Iran’s nuclear stalling tactic, analysts say

39
  • Iran dragging ft to get higher deal, analysts say
  • Nuclear work advances effectively past limits of accord
  • Frustrated West urges Tehran to renew talks
  • Iran desires Guards pulled from terrorism checklist
  • Seeks funding, verified removing of sanctions

DUBAI, Oct 5 (Reuters) – Western powers have been making an attempt for weeks to get Tehran’s reply to at least one query – when will the Islamic Republic return to nuclear talks which have been on maintain since June. Iran’s response has been obscure and easy: “soon”.

Behind Tehran’s stalling is an try to realize leverage to extract extra concessions when negotiations do finally resume, officers and analysts mentioned, together with by advancing its uranium enrichment programme, a doable pathway to a nuclear bomb.

Iran has lengthy denied searching for to weaponise nuclear vitality.

The talks, which intention to deliver each Washington and Tehran again into compliance with a 2015 nuclear pact aimed toward curbing the Iranian enrichment programme, have been adjourned in June after hardliner cleric Ebrahim Raisi was elected Iran’s president.

“Iran will eventually return to the talks in Vienna. But we are in no rush to do so because time is on our side. Our nuclear advances further every day,” a senior Iranian official mentioned on situation of anonymity.

Ali Vaez, senior Iran analyst on the International Crisis Group, mentioned “more time equals more leverage, given the exponential growth of Iran’s nuclear program”.

While China and Russia, nearer buying and selling companions of Iran, are extra restrained, Western events to the pact can scarcely conceal their frustration. The United States and European powers have urged Iran to renew talks, saying the diplomatic window wouldn’t keep open without end as Tehran’s nuclear programme is advancing effectively past the boundaries set by the 2015 pact.

The nuclear settlement restricted Iran’s uranium enrichment exercise to make it tougher for Tehran to develop nuclear arms, in return for lifting worldwide sanctions.

But former U.S. President Donald Trump ditched the deal in 2018, saying it didn’t do sufficient to curb Iran’s nuclear actions, ballistic missile program and regional affect, and reimposed sanctions which have crippled Iran’s economic system.

In response, Tehran breached the deal by rebuilding stockpiles of enriched uranium, refining it to larger fissile purity and putting in superior centrifuges to hurry up output.

“They (Iran) keep saying they are going to come back to the table. But when they say soon … it means absolutely nothing,” mentioned a senior European diplomat.

“That doesn’t mean we think they don’t want to come back, but we think they want their cake and to eat it. They want to create a fait accompli on the ground – technical and nuclear – and preserve the possibility of a negotiation.”

MORE FOR LESS

Emboldened by the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, Iran’s rulers are assured their stalling technique is not going to deliver critical repercussions, analysts mentioned, particularly when U.S. President Joe Biden is embroiled in a rising rivalry with China and battling a COVID-19 disaster at house.

In distinction, the Biden administration is signalling that Iran ought to take nothing as a right.

Top U.S. officers will inform visiting Israeli counterparts in Washington on Tuesday they’re dedicated to diplomacy however can be ready to pursue “other avenues” to make sure Tehran doesn’t purchase a nuclear weapon, a senior U.S. official mentioned.

Israel says it is not going to enable Tehran to get a nuclear bomb.

The man with final authority in Iran, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has blamed the United States for the pause within the talks.

“Ayatollah Khamenei seems to believe that by waiting, he can get a better deal from Washington. That time is on his side,” mentioned Meir Javedanfar, Iran lecturer at Israel’s Reichman University.

Tehran and Washington nonetheless disagree on which steps have to be taken and when, with the important thing points being what nuclear limits Tehran will settle for and what sanctions Washington will take away.

The undeniable fact that oblique talks between Tehran and Washington paused after the election of Raisi was an indication of Tehran’s plan “to press for major concessions” from the United States, mentioned a former Iranian official.

“The establishment is also weighing different tactics to get more and give less in return. It takes time to determine their strategy,” he mentioned.

Naming Ali Bagheri Kani, an ardent critic of the 2015 pact, to exchange former pragmatist chief nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi, indicators Tehran will take an uncompromising strategy when the talks resume, Eurasia Group analyst Henry Rome mentioned.

ECONOMIC RISK

In addition to searching for the lifting of Trump-era sanctions in a verifiable course of, Tehran additionally desires Washington to take away Iran’s Revolutionary Guards from a terrorism blacklist. It additionally desires Europe to ensure overseas buyers will return, and assurances that Washington is not going to renege on the deal once more.

For his half, Biden desires to revive the pact’s nuclear limits and, if doable, prolong them whereas pushing again towards what he has known as Iran’s different destabilizing actions.

Sanam Vakil, deputy director of Chatham House’s Middle East and North Africa Program, mentioned Iran would ‘win’ if it gained additional concessions from Washington, however ought to the deal collapse Iran’s rulers sense that they might survive by means of “maximum resistance”, a reference to financial self-reliance.

However, Iran’s foot-dragging technique may weaken the nation’s clerical rulers by additional hurting an economic system already grappling with squeezed oil revenues.

The authorities concern a re-eruption of unrest amongst its core supporters – lower-income Iranians – whose periodic bouts of protest in recent times reminded them how susceptible they could possibly be to in style anger over financial hardships.

“A failure to revive the nuclear deal entails real economic risk for Iran … but politics trumps economics right now,” Rome mentioned.

Writing by Parisa Hafezi, Editing by William Maclean

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks during Friday prayers in Tehran September 14, 2007. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl

Iranian flag flies in front of the UN office building, housing IAEA headquarters, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Vienna, Austria, May 24, 2021. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi delivers a speech during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Dushanbe, Tajikistan September 17, 2021. REUTERS/Didor Sadulloev