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Hardened US And Iranian Positions Question Efficacy Of Parties’ Negotiating Tactics

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Hardened US And Iranian Positions Question Efficacy Of Parties’ Negotiating Tactics

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Written by Dr. James M. Dorsey.

The United States and Iran seem to be hardening their positions in advance of a resumption of negotiations to revive a 2015 international nuclear agreement once Iranian President-elect Ebrahim Raisi takes office in early August.

Concern among supporters of the agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program which former US President Donald J. Trump abandoned in 2018 may be premature but do raise questions about the efficacy of the negotiating tactics of both parties.

These tactics include the Biden administration’s framing of the negotiations exclusively in terms of the concerns of the West and its Middle Eastern allies rather than also as they relate to Iranian fears, a failure by both the United States and Iran to acknowledge that lifting sanctions is a complex process that needs to be taken into account in negotiations, and an Iranian refusal to clarify on what terms the Islamic republic may be willing to discuss non-nuclear issues once the nuclear agreement has been revived.

The differences in the negotiations between the United States and Iran are likely to be accentuated if and when the talks resume, particularly concerning the mechanics of lifting sanctions.

“The challenges facing the JCPOA negotiations are a really important example of how a failed experience of sanctions relief, as we had in Iran between the Obama and Trump admins, can cast a shadow over diplomacy for years to come, making it harder to secure US interests,” said Iran analyst Esfandyar Batmanghelidj referring to the nuclear accord, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, by its initials.

The Biden administration may be heeding Mr. Batmangheldij’s notion that crafting sanctions needs to take into account the fact that lifting them can be as difficult as imposing them as it considers more targeted additional punitive measures against Iran. Those measures would aim to hamper Iran’s evolving capabilities for precision strikes using drones and guided missiles by focusing on the providers of parts for those weapon systems, particularly engines and microelectronics.

To be sure, there is no discernable appetite in either Washington or Tehran to adjust negotiation tactics and amend their underlying assumptions. It would constitute a gargantuan, if not impossible challenge given the political environment in both capitals. That was reflected in recent days in Iranian and US statements.
Iranian Spiritual Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei suggested that agreement on the revival of the nuclear accord was stumbling over a US demand that it goes beyond the terms of the original accord by linking it to an Iranian willingness to discuss its ballistic missiles program and support for Arab proxies.

In a speech to the cabinet of outgoing President Hassan Rouhani, he asserted that the West “will try to hit us everywhere they can and if they don’t hit us in some place, it’s because they can’t… On paper and in their promises, they say they’ll remove sanctions. But they haven’t lifted them and won’t lift them. They impose conditions…to say in future Iran violated the agreement and there is no agreement” if Iran refuses to discuss regional issues or ballistic missiles.

Iranian officials insist that nothing can be discussed at this stage but a return by both countries to the nuclear accord as is. Officials, distrustful of US intentions, have hinted that an unconditional and verified return to the status quo ante may help open the door to talks on missiles and proxies provided this would involve not only Iranian actions and programs but also those of America’s allies.

Mr. Khamenei’s remarks seemed to bolster suggestions that once in office Mr. Raisi would seek to turn the table on the Biden administration by insisting on stricter verification and US implementation of its part of a revived agreement.

To achieve this, Iran is expected to demand the lifting of all rather than some sanctions imposed or extended by the Trump administration; verification of the lifting;  guarantees that the lifting of sanctions is irreversible, possibly by making any future American withdrawal from the deal contingent on approval by the United Nations Security Council; and iron-clad provisions to ensure that obstacles to Iranian trade are removed, including the country’s unfettered access to the international financial system and the country’s overseas accounts.

Mr. Khamenei’s remarks and Mr. Raisi’s anticipated harder line was echoed in warnings by US officials that the ascendancy of the new president would not get Iran a better deal. The officials cautioned further that there could be a point soon at which it would no longer be worth returning to because Iran’s nuclear program would have advanced to the point where the limitations imposed by the agreement wouldn’t produce the intended minimum one year ‘breakout time’ to produce enough enriched uranium for a bomb.

“We are committed to diplomacy, but this process cannot go on indefinitely. At some point, the gains achieved by the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) cannot be fully recovered by a return to the JCPOA if Iran continues the activities that it’s undertaken with regard to its nuclear program…The ball remains in Iran’s court, and we will see if they’re prepared to make the decisions necessary to come back into compliance,” US Secretary Antony Blinken said this week on a visit to Kuwait.

Another US official suggested that the United States and Iran could descend into a tug-of-war on who has the longer breath and who blinks first. It’s a war that so far has not produced expected results for the United States and in which Iran has paid a heavy price for standing its ground.

The official said that a breakdown in talks could “look a lot like the dual-track strategy of the past—sanctions pressure, other forms of pressure, and a persistent offer of negotiations. It will be a question of how long it takes the Iranians to come to the idea they will not wait us out.”

A podcast version of this story is available on Soundcloud,Itunes, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, Spreaker, Pocket Casts, Tumblr, Podbean,Audecibel, Patreon and Castbox.

Dr. James M. Dorsey is an award-winning journalist and a senior fellow at Nanyang Technological University’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore and the National University of Singapore’s Middle East Institute


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The West must return to their obligations without the imposition of further conditions.
They have already entered into the established agreement. They then refused to fulfill their agreed upon obligations, thereby rendering the agreement effectively non-existent.
If the agreement is ever to be effectively existent all parties will have to fulfill their obligations equally.

john mason

Iran should simply state that they don’t want the US to rejoin and it is up to the remaining signatories to comply with the JCPOA and find ways to work around the US sanctions. That should shut the US up for good; not wanted or needed due to their inability or willingness to comply with international agreements.

john mason

Still around; thought they burnt you at the stake!

Jim Allen

By comments by US Government Officials (raving sociopaths, and lunatics) quoted in the article it’s clear the West has no connection to reality. Secretary of State Blinkin’s statement in particular. Arrogant mouthpiece of the Cabal, following the equally delusional instructions from his master’s. Their prejudice and determination to take reprisal against Iran (Persia) has overridden all logic, and reason.
(the same is true for Russia) Rouhani is correct, US Government will never keep it’s word, or lift sanctions as long as it continues to exist, or is stopped. In the prevailing condition’s within US Government today, US Government will cease to be a threat to world peace in the near future.
It’s Foreign Policy has made it the most hated country on earth, it’s inability to understand what is clearly visible to the reasonable person in all matters regarding Iran due to it’s arrogance, and mistaken belief it can actually rule the world, despite it’s failure to strangle Iran under the weight of 43 year’s of piled on sanctions, designed by expert’s in destroying countries, and populations. An 8 year war by proxy that failed to defeat their chosen enemy, and more has served only to slow Iran’s progress. Now, highly industrialized, using world class technology much of which developed domestically, it’s built it’s military defenses to a point of being the regional power, that US military can’t defeat in conventional war. Threat’s of nuclear attack are answered by Iran’s long time ally, and world power Russia using weapons technology, and capabilities that only exist in one other country, and there’s no analog in the world. (except in these two countries. US Government ignore’s this fact, despite Russia’s President having made a public statement, with a detailed account of the response his country will take should a nuclear strike be launched towards Russia, or it’s allies.
The statement made by “another official” on Iran’s ability to wait out US Government is absurd. Overwhelming evidence Iran is waiting for nothing, or no one is completely transparent.
On the matter of “Iran’s paying a high price.” Perhaps, but what was the price Iran paid for the honor of being ruled by an authoritarian puppet dictator, 1953-1979 ? Iran (Persia) has been around for thousands of years, some 5,000 year’s, if I recall. This alone makes Iran an expert in the calculations of what constitutes a
“high price.” There’s only one way to deal with bully’s, Iran chose to take that action, demonstrating the people are in the top 5 of most respected in the world. High on the list.
While displaying the most rational, reasonable, considered, and measured restraint in response to the treachery visited upon their country. Iran is prevailing, it’s bully is failing, and will cease to exist before it reaches 300 year’s as a Government.

G2 Man

The hardening Iranian position is a natural and expected consequence of US arrogance, naive immaturity, undue Jew influence and overall hubris. The UNSC and the world negotiated a very sound and win-win internationally agreed JCPOA with Iran a technologically advanced natural resources blessed large nation sitting on the strategic geo-political crossroads and economic jugular of the world. The US in its infinite suicidal arrogance tore up the JCPOA and implemented the most vicious sanctions, terrorism and destabilization regime against a peaceful Iran which complied to the letter of the agreement. The so-called Jews calling themselves Zionists who are currently in a temporary occupation of Palestine have manipulated US domestic and foreign policy for the past 100 years and they instigated the unilateral abrogation of the JCPAO, which will ensure Iranian nuclear breakout.

The other stark reality is that a country with an illustrious history and largely homogeneous and well developed nationalism of over 3,000 years straddling the most coveted landscape on earth juxtapositioned on ancient trade routes simply can not be brought to its knees, especially when the US is a declining power at all levels, from the Olympics to the economics, the United States is playing second and possible third fiddle to China and Russia, both allies of Iran and neighbors.

Iran, a large country endowed with immense natural resources combined with fervent nationalism simply can not be defeated at any level. Iranian under “moderate” but ineffective Rouhani tried in earnest to work out a modus vivendi with the west, but were repeatedly bullied and backstabbed, under Jew pressure. Now Iran has nothing to lose as US decays and is fleeing after a string of defeats from Afghanistan to Yemen. Iranian hardliners like Raisi, who are coming to power are very experienced power players and understand the US hollow power and will defend with national interests with utmost vigor. The US has made a fatal mistake in makes enemies of Iran, China, Russia and most of the Eurasian world. US in its infantile idiocy will keep on bleeding to death with the proverbial Confucian “death of thousand cuts”.

Iran is definitely in the regional drivers seat and its assertive policies are about to reach a new level. The US and Zionists should tread very carefully or they will unleash forces far beyond their wildest imagination.

Ashok Varma

Israel looks very stupid as it promised to disarm Hezbollah and “expel Iran from Syria”. The opposite is true, Hezbollah has expanded its arsenal ten fold and Iranian regional power is at its peak. Paper Tigers should not bark.

pinoy 1tv

But but, the US invented hypersonic missiles. Oh wait!

America is nowhere the hegemon anymore, they are just a delusion-driven empire of clowns.

Americunt LOSERS

The Americunts are like an old, ugly, crack addicted whore, toothless and angry as the world has moved on. Just watching the senile old fool Biden doddering duck walk is embarrassing. The geezer can barely walk and is given instructions via an ear piece. Shows you the pathetic state of the bankrupt deadbeat disunion.

G2 Man

In pure military terms, the US simply does not have the strategic mass to attack Iran, a warrior nation four times the size of Iraq. It took US and 55 NATO and other vassal states to garner one million soldiers to attack a sanctioned and depleted Iraq run by the madman Saddam. Iraq had no military cohesion to speak off and the divided treacherous population of Kurds and Sunnis made it easy pickings. Iran is a unified powerhouse with a population of 84 million with very tough battle hardened military and patchwork of military allies all over the region. As even the CIA cautioned Trump, a war with Iran would be US swan song. The days of US aggression are over, as China’s ascent would be turbo charged. US only has the Jews to blame for the mess it is in.

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