Iran will send a delegation to Vienna in the coming days “strengthen cooperation” with the United Nations’ International Atomic Agency, IAEA, according to a statement by the country’s foreign minister on Wednesday.
Despite Western ambitions to revive the controversial Iran nuclear deal of 2015 – the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called a “bad deal” – numerous hurdles have stopped the finalization of a deal, and talks over Iran’s nuclear program have been inactive since early September.
The foreign minister articulated hope that “accusations” against Iran’s misconduct would disappear eventually and that “we will be able to pass through this stage through technical cooperation.”
IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi gave credence to the statement, noting on social media that “dialogue has restarted with Iran on clarification of outstanding safeguards issues.”
Grossi said he has met already with the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization.
It is yet unclear whether the world powers will establish a nuclear deal with Iran; Robert Malley, the Biden administration’s special envoy for Iran, said on Monday that Washington is currently not prioritizing such a deal.
“It’s really not our focus right now; it’s not on the agenda because nothing has changed,” Malley told Aaron David Miller, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “We’re not going to focus on something that is inert when other things are happening.”
The mass anti-regime protests inside Iran over the last month and a half, and the regime’s decision to provide lethal drones to the Russian military in Ukraine, have caused the a change of priorities for the Biden administration, Malley explained.
“If nothing’s going to happen, we’re going to spend our time where we can be useful,” he said. “We’re going to continue to use our sanctions and other pressure tools to make sure that Iran can’t acquire nuclear weapons. And we’re going to focus on areas where we can be effective at this time.”
Malley noted the Biden administration prefers to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons through diplomatic means.
“We believe that [Biden] is committed to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and that diplomacy is the best way to do that, and so we will pursue it without apology,” Malley said. “At the same time, as I said, we will use other tools and, in last resort, a military option if necessary, to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.”
Malley indicated that the Biden administration had looked into whether “a diplomatic path” were available in the early days of talks but that Iran had caused obstacles at each juncture.
“Several times we came very close. And each time we came close, Iran came up with a new extraneous demand that derailed the talks,” Malley said.
In Europe, there has been a gradual loss of patience with Iran’s brazen aggression and systematic violations of the JCPOA, and both the European Union and Germany are reportedly weighing listing Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock announced in an interview with ARD, public-service broadcasters in Germany, that a “further sanctions package” and the labeling of the Guards as a terrorist organization are on the table.
In a recent interview with Arab News, Mustafa Hijri – the leader of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan, or KDPI – warned the West that a new Iran nuclear deal would embolden the Tehran regime to escalate its oppression at home and to further export its Islamist terrorism throughout the Middle East and beyond.
The regime is already accustomed to utilizing the efforts of terrorist groups as proxies in Lebanon, Syria and elsewhere in the world.