Iran’s regime has refused to accept the EU’s ‘final draft’ to re-establish the JCPOA
The US and the EU both announced through spokespersons that they were “studying” the response to what has been referred to as the “final text” of an agreement to restore the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. The draft proposal was delivered to the US and Iran last week, with instructions for them to respond by Monday and state whether they would accept the agreement in its current form, according to Enrique Mora, the coordinator of the European Union for those negotiations.
When Iranian officials announced in advance that they would make their comments available at midnight on Monday, they essentially responded at the last minute, exceeding the EU deadline. A spokesperson for the EU on foreign affairs and security policy, Nabila Massrali, specifically advised against interpreting the timing, but other individuals with knowledge of the negotiations have argued for weeks that the Iranian regime is deliberately extending the process as much as possible.
The contents of the Iranian regime’s response support this interpretation of the regime’s actions. Few details of that response were provided on Tuesday, either by Western parties or by Tehran itself, but it was immediately clear that it signaled the possibility of further talks. This appears to contradict previous comments from EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who stated that the current draft would not be changed.
Even going so far as to tell reporters earlier this month, an unnamed European source with connections to those negotiations said: “We are not going to change a single word or add a single comma in the current draft.” However, it is clear from the public remarks made by Iranian officials in relation to Tehran’s response to that draft that the regime does not anticipate either the EU or the US actually upholding that commitment.
Before the Iranian regime’s response was given, Reuters and other media outlets reported that there were three likely areas of disagreement: the continuation of an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) investigation into the potential military implications of Iran’s nuclear activities, the issue of whether and how long-term adherence to the agreement could be guaranteed, and the status of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Media reports claim that the Iranian regime’s response to the draft agreement did not address the regime’s earlier demands for the investigation’s completion as a condition for reinstating the nuclear deal. However, the European Union made it clear that it was open to that outcome, stating in its draft that it would not be opposed to the investigation’s conclusion as long as Iran provided convincing answers to any open questions regarding the whereabouts of nuclear traces that the IAEA had discovered at four locations where Tehran had not disclosed the nuclear activity.
On the surface, this seems to pave the way for the resolution of the one remaining problem. However, that door has always been open, despite Tehran’s plausible denials to enter. The IAEA’s board of governors voted in June to officially censure the Iranian government for refusing to cooperate with the investigation and obstructing the work of agency inspectors. Tehran has asserted time and time again that it has already provided all necessary information, but experts argue that the only data available only supports unreliable explanations for the nuclear traces.
— Ali Safavi (@amsafavi) August 18, 2022
If Tehran were sincerely committed to cooperating with the IAEA investigation, issues pertaining to it would evidently not be difficult to resolve. Ironic, given that a senior adviser to the Iranian regime’s negotiating team reportedly used those exact words in a conversation with Al Jazeera. Mohammad Morandi stated that the concerns raised by Iran are “founded upon past US and EU violations” and that they are “not difficult to resolve.”
Officials from the regime argued that after receiving that response, negotiations could continue for two or three more days before an agreement is reached. Morandi said, “They just need to make a small political decision. If Americans and Europeans are able to satisfy the concerns of Iranian lawyers and negotiators, it is finished.” Tehran has repeated that claim throughout numerous delays in the negotiations, but it still appears that the “small political decision” in question is simply giving in to Iran’s demands.