UPDATED 11:35 AM PT – Thursday, June 10, 2021
Iran has ramped up its demands ahead of the next round of negotiations over renewal of the nuclear deal. The Biden administration has continued to push for the restoration of the Iran Nuclear Deal in the face of direct opposition from key U.S. ally Israel.
On Wednesday, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said the next round of talks in the Austrian capital of Vienna are set to kick off this coming weekend. Sherman highlighted the negotiations are being overshadowed by the upcoming June 18 elections in Iran, which are widely predicted to result in the replacement of President Hassan Rouhani with a hardline candidate.
According to Iranian officials and analysts, the shift is likely to result in an even less flexible stance on the part of Tehran’s’ negotiators, who are already calling for the U.S. to fully lift all sanctions on the Islamic republic as a precondition of a return to the nuclear deal.
“It’s not easy to trust America again. That’s why Iran is saying that you lift sanctions, because when you suspend, you can always go back,” political analyst Fuad Izadi explained. “This time, we want to see some action. We just don’t want to accept your move.”
— UANI (@UANI) June 9, 2021
Iran holds the 2018 withdrawal and reimposition of sanctions by the U.S. to justify its move away from compliance, despite the lack of justification for this argument in international law as the deal. Yet, the Maximum Pressure Campaign initiated by the Trump administration was broadly effective in reducing Tehran’s’ capability to project power abroad by limiting its access to funds critical to its overseas operations and support of proxy militant groups.
Indeed, Iranian analysts explicitly recognize the efficacy of U.S. sanctions in limiting Iran’s’ power and curtailing its efforts at international destabilization.
“They say that they want a longer and stronger deal. Longer means they want to change some of the articles in the agreement. Stronger means they want to go beyond the nuclear agreement,” Izadi declared. “So Iran’s foreign policy, they want to have a say. Iran’s defense policy, they want to have a say.”
The shift away from a strong pressure strategy and focus on the so-called soft power favored by the Biden administration has created the conditions for Iran to reassert itself as a significant source of regional instability and its renewed pursuit of a nuclear weapon. Although Biden administration officials have not conceded this point outright by their own admission, the last few months have been characterized by a bolder Iran steadily racing towards full nuclear power status.
“What we do know unfortunately, meanwhile, its program is galloping forward. It has lifted restraints imposed on it by the agreement, including the amount of enriched material it has,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken mentioned. “It has started to deploy some more advanced centrifuges.”
Meanwhile, the Biden administration continues to steadfastly hold on to the idea of renewing the deal, even as Iran inches ever closer to possession of the weapons the Ayatollah regime believes are vital to its ambitions for regional domination.