As discussions have failed to conclude, some Iranian politicians have become increasingly frustrated and impatient with the prolonged negotiations. Iran’s Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, indicated in an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera that Iran might set a legal deadline for the stalled negotiations to reinstate the 2015 nuclear deal with global powers. Amir-Abdollahian also suggested that the parliament might be involved in implementing such a deadline.
He stated that certain members of Iran’s parliament have suggested that the government should not continually engage in negotiations to restore the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was abandoned by the United States in 2018. The foreign minister explained that some factions in the parliament are proposing legislation that could impede the government’s ability to continue the negotiations, making their work more challenging. The foreign minister’s comments suggest that Iran is unfolding increasingly frustrated with the lack of progress in the talks and that the government may consider taking a more decisive approach to resolving the impasse.
The Iranian Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, has hinted at the likelihood of Iran instituting a legal deadline for the impasse in the negotiations to reinstate the 2015 nuclear accord with global powers.#AmirAbdollahian #IranSaudiArabia #NuclearAcoord2015 #Iran pic.twitter.com/L9jUEgam72
— News Live (@NewsLiveFree) March 30, 2023
Deadline Looms for Talks on Iran’s Nuclear Deal
In an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian cautioned that the current negotiations to restore the JCPOA won’t remain open indefinitely. He expressed concerns that some factions in Iran’s parliament are impelling proposals and legislation that could further complicate negotiations. The parliament last passed legislation regarding the nuclear deal in late 2020, setting a deadline for removing US sanctions.
President Ebrahim Raisi’s administration is politically aligned with Iran’s parliament, which has expressed frustration with the lack of progress in the ongoing nuclear talks that began nearly two years ago. This latest statement from Amir-Abdollahian suggests that Iran may adopt a more stringent approach to the negotiations, including imposing a legal deadline, to expedite a resolution. When that deadline passed without action, the previous administration under former President Hassan Rouhani increased uranium enrichment and limited nuclear inspections.
Since last September, the talks have been at a standstill, with Tehran and the Western nations involved in the accord accusing each other of bad faith in the negotiations. Both entities have frequently pointed fingers at Washington for the negotiations’ lack of results. The Raisi administration’s political unity with the parliament may have implications for the outcome of the talks, as they are likely to take a more cohesive approach in their dealings with the Western parties.
Nuclear Talks Stalled Since Accusations of Bad Faith in 2020
The negotiations to reinstate the JCPOA have been in limbo since September 2020, when Tehran and Western parties accused each other of bad faith in the talks. In response to Iran’s handling of nationwide protests and allegations of providing Russia with armed drones for the Ukrainian conflict, the US and the European Union have imposed additional sanctions on Iran. Tehran has denied these allegations of supplying weapons to Russia for use in Ukraine. These developments have further complicated the negotiations, leading to a protracted stalemate.
Foreign Minister reiterated Tehran’s stance that Western nations had played a role in recent “riots” in Iran, which he claims have hindered the progress of the ongoing nuclear talks. He stated that an agreement could be within reach, provided the US acts realistically. The assertion by the foreign minister underscores the continued lack of trust between Iran and the Western parties involved in the JCPOA negotiations. The accusations of Western interference in Iran’s domestic affairs further complicate a complex and delicate situation.
Foreign Minister confirmed that technical discussions with the IAEA are ongoing, and Iran is committed to cooperating with the global nuclear watchdog. However, there has yet to be any clear information regarding the substance of the ongoing talks. Regarding exchanging prisoners with the US, Amir-Abdollahian stated that Iran had not linked it to the JCPOA negotiations. Still, he hoped that certain technical matters related to the prisoner exchange would be resolved. Despite these statements, the fate of prisoner exchanges with the US remains uncertain, with no clear indications of a breakthrough.
Iran Seeks to Improve Ties with Saudi Arabia
Despite the ongoing deadlock in the nuclear negotiations, Iran is taking steps to improve its relations with regional rival KSA and potentially other Arab nations. Earlier this month, China mediated an agreement between Tehran and Riyadh, committing their foreign ministries to reopen diplomatic missions within two months. Iranian Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian and his Saudi Arabian counterpart, Faisal bin Farhan, will likely meet before Ramadan ends in late April to finalize the deal. This development indicates that Iran is willing to engage in diplomatic efforts to ease regional tensions, even amidst the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the nuclear negotiations.
In addition to the agreement brokered by China, Saudi Arabia has invited the Iranian President for a state visit, which he has accepted. Iran also plans to extend an invitation to the Saudi rulers, according to Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian. The move toward normalization of relations between the two regional rivals is seen as a positive development for both countries and the wider region. The Foreign Minister stated that returning Tehran and Riyadh’s relations to a normal state would benefit both nations and the region. This effort shows Iran’s willingness to engage in constructive dialogue and diplomacy, even amid the ongoing stalemate in the nuclear negotiations.
Iran has been making efforts to improve its relations not only with Saudi Arabia but also with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. The country has been using Oman to relay messages to Bahrain and discuss the prospects of normalizing diplomatic relations. In addition, Iran’s Foreign Minister held talks with leaders of Jordan and Egypt during a conference in December with a focus on Iraq and expressed his willingness to hold more talks.
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