Tehran throws a wrench in nuclear talks with excessive demands

Analysis by PMOI/MEK

Iran, November 9, 2021—After months of playing for time, Iran’s regime has agreed on a date to resume nuclear talks in Vienna: November 29. The date is opportunely set a few days after a scheduled series of sessions by the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the nuclear watchdog of the United Nations. The regime is thus implicitly forcing the Board of Governors to avoid passing a resolution against the belligerent flouting of its commitments to avoid disrupting upcoming negotiations.

And to make things even more complicated, the regime has declared another set of demands that would give it a free pass to continue pursuing nuclear weapons and wreak havoc across the Middle East region.

“The U.S. should show that it has the capability and will to provide guarantees that it will not abandon the deal again if the talks to revive the deal succeed,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told a virtual news conference on Monday, referring to the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran’s regime and world powers, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

In his remarks, Khatibzadeh added that the U.S. must “recognize its fault in ditching the pact” and must lift all sanctions imposed by the Trump administration in a verifiable process.

The regime’s own officials know that, by any standard, its demands and claims are unrealistic. Despite a concerted effort by the international community to bring the regime within compliance of the JCPOA, the regime has continued to renege on its obligations, deny UN inspectors access to nuclear sites, enrich uranium beyond the limits set by the nuclear deal, and demand billions of dollars in ransom. At the same time, the regime has engaged in provocative measures in the region, carrying out terrorist attacks through its proxy forces.

It is clear beyond the shadow of a doubt that if the talks have been stalled, it is because of the regime’s lack of cooperation and its drive to  extort the international community.

The demand for the lifting of sanctions is just as unrealistic as the regime’s claim that the source of the problem is the U.S. Unlike the nuclear deal, which was an executive decision, the sanctions imposed on the regime were approved and passed by the U.S. Congress, meaning it is beyond the power of the current U.S. administration to lift them. A considerable number of these sanctions are not even related to the regime’s nuclear program and concern its terrorist activities and human rights violations. And while U.S. legislators might be divided on many issues, they widely agree on the threats posed by the Iranian regime.

And finally, the demand that neither the Biden administration nor any future administration will withdraw from the deal requires the nuclear deal to be passed as a treaty needing 60 votes in the U.S. Senate. The 2015 JCPOA was an agreement, and there was no legal or legislative force behind it because a considerable percent of U.S. lawmakers believed that it did not do enough to curb the regime’s terrorist threat.

Of course, none of this is new to regime officials. They know full well that their demands are virtually impossible to achieve. So, at this point, why are they continuing to make such demands, especially when they are facing severe economic problems at home?

There are two sides to the answer to this question. First, the regime is banking on a revival of the appeasement policy to obtain more concessions from the West. While Iran’s mullahs know they can’t continue their extortion tactics forever and the international community’s patience will eventually run out, they are hoping to obtain maximum concessions on their nuclear program. At the same time, they are trying to buy as much time possible, hoping they will reach a threshold point in their nuclear program that will provide them the upper hand in any upcoming negotiations.

Meanwhile, the ayatollahs face a mega crisis inside Iran. Next week will mark the second anniversary of the November 2019 protests, a nationwide uprising that brought the regime to its knees and pushed it to the verge of collapse. The regime is faced with an utterly outraged and dissatisfied population that is on the brink of explosion and wants nothing more than democratic regime change. The mullahs have held on to power only through brute force, gunning down protesters in the streets, carrying out public executions, imprisoning and torturing dissidents, and appointing a mass murderer as president.

At this point, any sign of weakness will directly backfire and cause the regime to lose its hold on the situation in Iran. The mullahs desperately need to put up a show of defiance and project power for the sake of maintaining their façade at home and across the region. The slightest sign of fragility will immediately backfire and have rippling effects rendering dire consequences for the regime. They will open the way for discussions on all other non-nuclear threats that the regime poses to the world, including its terrorist activities, ballistic missiles program, and human rights abuses. Backing down on any of these topics, considered by the mullahs as their pillars of power, can lead to the collapse of the regime’s regional and domestic hegemony, and possibly trigger the next wave of nationwide protests.

Tehran’s irrational actions are characteristic of a regime drowning in crises that are of its own making. It is hanging on to anything it can to extend its lifespan even for another week or month. At this point, the international community should not be dealing with the regime as a respected member of nation states. This is a regime that only responds to firmness and strength. Any concessions to the ayatollahs will only aid and abet terrorism and destruction without addressing any of the threats they pose.

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